Debra Kohl

Written by Debra Kohl

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


The Mayapple, scientifically known as Podophyllum peltatum, is a fascinating plant that has a rich history and a range of intriguing features. Found in the woodlands and shaded areas of North America, the Mayapple is a perennial herbaceous plant that captures the attention of botanists, nature enthusiasts, and researchers alike. Its unique umbrella-shaped leaves, striking white blooms, and luscious yellow fruit make it a captivating sight in the wild. But there is so much more to discover about this enigmatic plant. In this article, we will delve into 20 fascinating facts about the Mayapple, exploring its various uses, cultural significance, and intriguing adaptations. So, let’s embark on a journey to uncover the secrets of the Mayapple and gain a deeper appreciation for this remarkable plant.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mayapple, a native North American plant, has umbrella-shaped leaves and edible fruits. It’s historically used for medicine and has a compound that’s used in anti-cancer drugs.
  • Mayapple is a shade-loving plant that slowly spreads through rhizomes. Its blooms attract pollinators, and its fruits are enjoyed by turtles, contributing to seed dispersion.
Table of Contents

Mayapple is a native North American plant.

Originally found in the woodlands and forests of Eastern North America, Mayapple is a perennial plant known for its unique characteristics.

The scientific name for Mayapple is Podophyllum peltatum.

The name “Podophyllum” is derived from the Greek words “podo” meaning “foot” and “phyllum” meaning “leaf,” referring to the shape of its foliage.

Mayapple gets its name from the umbrella-like shape of its leaves.

The large, palmately lobed leaves of the Mayapple resemble the shape of an umbrella, hence the common name.

Mayapple blooms in the spring.

In early spring, Mayapple produces unique, waxy white flowers that hang beneath the umbrella-like leaves.

The Mayapple fruit is edible but must be fully ripe.

The fruit of the Mayapple, often referred to as the “Mayapple apple,” is edible when fully ripe, but unripe fruit and other parts of the plant are toxic.

Mayapple has a rich historical and medicinal background.

Native Americans utilized various parts of the Mayapple plant for medicinal purposes, including treating skin ailments and as a laxative.

Mayapple contains a compound called podophyllotoxin.

Podophyllotoxin, found in the roots and rhizomes of Mayapple, has been used in the development of anti-cancer drugs.

Mayapple is a clonal plant.

Mayapple primarily reproduces through underground rhizomes, forming colonies of genetically identical plants.

The Mayapple plant is an important food source for wildlife.

The ripe fruits of the Mayapple are consumed by a variety of animals, including birds, mammals, and reptiles.

Mayapple leaves provide shelter for small animals.

The dense canopy formed by Mayapple’s large leaves offers shelter for small animals, such as salamanders and insects, during rainstorms.

Mayapple is also known as Devil’s Apple or Hogapple.

The plant has earned various nicknames, reflecting its toxic properties and the resemblance of its fruit to apples.

Mayapple is a shade-tolerant plant.

Mayapple thrives in shaded environments and is often found in the understory of forests.

Mayapple spreads slowly.

The plant releases seeds, but its main method of propagation is through the expansion of its rhizomes, resulting in a gradual spread over time.

Mayapple blooms attract pollinators.

The white flowers of the Mayapple produce a pleasant fragrance, attracting bees, flies, and beetles for pollination.

Mayapple fruits are preferred by turtles.

Turtles, especially box turtles, are known to relish the juicy Mayapple fruits and play an essential role in seed dispersion.

Mayapple leaves turn yellow in the fall.

During the autumn season, the vibrant green leaves of the Mayapple transform into a brilliant yellow hue.

Mayapple rhizomes have been used in traditional medicine for centuries.

Various indigenous cultures have utilized Mayapple rhizomes to treat ailments such as intestinal worms, warts, and even cancer.

Mayapple has a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Ants are often seen on Mayapple plants, as they help to disperse the seeds and provide protection from herbivores.

Mayapple is resistant to many diseases and pests.

Due to its toxic properties, Mayapple is generally left untouched by insects and other herbivores.

Mayapple has inspired folklore and superstitions.

In some Native American folklore, Mayapple was associated with fertility and was believed to bring good luck when found in the forest.

These are just some of the many fascinating facts about Mayapple, a unique and intriguing plant that continues to captivate us with its beauty and rich history.


In conclusion, Mayapple is a fascinating plant that offers a plethora of interesting facts. From its unique growth pattern and medicinal uses to its vibrant fruit and ecological significance, Mayapple embodies the wonders of the natural world. Whether you’re an avid gardener, a lover of nature, or simply curious about the remarkable diversity of plant life on Earth, learning about Mayapple will surely leave you in awe of its captivating qualities.


Q: What is Mayapple?

Mayapple, also known as Podophyllum peltatum, is a herbaceous perennial plant native to Eastern North America. It features large, umbrella-like leaves and produces small, yellow fruit.

Q: What are the medicinal uses of Mayapple?

Mayapple has a long history of medicinal use. The rhizomes of the plant contain a compound called podophyllotoxin, which has been used to treat various ailments, including cancer, warts, and constipation. However, it is important to note that the usage of Mayapple for medicinal purposes should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Q: How does Mayapple reproduce?

Mayapple reproduces through rhizomes, which are underground stems that produce new shoots and roots. It can also produce seeds, but the plant primarily spreads through the growth and expansion of its rhizomes.

Q: Is Mayapple toxic?

Yes, certain parts of the Mayapple plant, including the unripe fruit and the roots, are toxic if consumed in large quantities. It is advised to avoid consuming any part of the plant without proper knowledge or expert guidance.

Q: How does Mayapple benefit the environment?

Mayapple plays a vital ecological role by providing habitat and food for various wildlife species, including birds, insects, and mammals. The dense foliage and fruit of Mayapple attract a diverse range of animals, contributing to the overall biodiversity of the ecosystem.

Mayapple's intriguing qualities have piqued your interest, but there's more to explore in the world of plants. Dive into the enigmatic realm of botany, where you'll uncover 11 fascinating facts that will leave you in awe. Thyme, a beloved herb, not only adds flavor to dishes but also boasts a rich history in medicinal plants. Discover 16 surprising facts about this versatile plant. Lastly, let hepatica, a charming perennial plant, captivate you with its 19 astonishing characteristics. Embark on a journey through the wonders of the plant kingdom and expand your knowledge today!

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