Mayapples Are Among The First Plants To Come Up In The Spring

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May Apple grows to about 18 inches high, the stem separates into two large, dark green, long stemmed, palmate, lobed, leaves. Looking almost like umbrellas to protect the large white flower on a short peduncle, growing right in-between the leaves, flowers bloom in April to May. May apple flowers turn into crab apple size edible fruits, gather in early summer when fully ripe. May Apple roots are dark brown, fibrous and jointed, gather roots after foliage dies back, dry for later herb use.

The fully ripe fruit is eaten raw, cooked or made into jams, jellies, marmalades, and pies. It is very aromatic, and has a sweet peculiar but agreeable flavor. May Apple seeds and rind are not edible, said to be poisonous. The root and plant contain valuable constituents Quercetin, Kaempferol, Podophyllin, Isorhamnetin, Gallic-acid, Berberine, Alpha-peltatin, that are being studied for their healing, anticancer and other properties.

According to a 19th century botanist, mayapple fruits are useless and tasted syrupy something, according to him, was a favorite with small boys, pigs and raccoons (a small animal with grayish black fur, black patches around the eyes, and a long bushy ringed tail usually found in north and central America).Mayapple has a clambering rhizome or tuber that is as thin as a pencil and grows up to six feet. This part of the plant is of medicinal use and is harvested in autumn when the plants die down.

The foliage is avoided by mammalian herbivores because of its poisonous qualities and bitter taste. The seeds and rhizomes are also poisonous. The berries are edible if they are fully ripe; they are eaten by box turtles and possibly by such mammals as opossums, raccoons, and skunks. The seeds are distributed to new locations in the faeces of these animals.


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