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May Apple, American Mandrake Herb Use

Podophyllum peltatum

may apple flower pictures Podophyllum peltatum american mandrake

May Apple Herb Uses

  American Mandrake, or May Apple, is being tested as a possible treatment for cancer as it contains podophyllin, which has an antimiotic effect (it interferes with cell division and can thus prevent the growth of cells). More Info

The resin of May Apple, which is obtained from the root, is used in the treatment of warts. The whole plant, apart from the ripe fruit, is highly poisonous in large doses. American Mandrake herb produces nausea and vomiting, and even inflammation of the stomach and intestines, which has been known to prove fatal. In moderate doses, it is a drastic purgative with some cholagogue action. Do not use wile pregnant, nursing or trying to conceive.

May Apple root is used as a medicinal herb. It is antibilious, cathartic, cytostatic, hydrogogue and purgative. May Apple should only be used by professional herbalists. 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.

May Apple Edible Uses

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.

May Apple is also known by these names:  Mayapple, Devil’s Apple, Hog-apple, Indian Apple, American Mandrake, American May Apple, Racoonberry, Wild Lemon

May Apple Description and Habitat  

May Apple is a perennial native herb found growing in moist soils in rich woods, thickets and pastures Eastern N. America to Southern Maine to Florida, west to Texas and Minnesota. 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.

How to Grow May Apple

    May apple is easy using to grow using seedling transplants or seed sown in fall. Prefers rich well drained soil and partial to deep shade.

May Apple Folklore

  May Apple was once called the witches umbrella and thought to be employed by them as a poison, which may not be untrue! The English version of this plant has much lore told of it, being called Manroot (mandrake) believed to be alive and its screams when pulled from the ground would render a man permanently insane.

May Apple Recipe

Jelly or sweet relish:  Peel and deseed the ripe fruit and use your favorite jelly making skills with it. Also good fresh, but use in moderation.

All parts except the fruit are TOXIC!


Article by Deb Jackson & Karen Bergeron Copyright 1999 - 2017

May Apple Links 

Detailed Information about Growing May Apple
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