May Apple, American Mandrake
May Apple is also known by these names: Mayapple, Devil’s Apple, Hog-apple, Indian Apple, American Mandrake, American May Apple, Racoonberry, Wild Lemon
Caution! May apple root can be toxic and should only be used by experienced herbalists. More info
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.
May Apple Cultivation
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 Herb Uses and Medicinal Properties
American Mandrake, or May Apple, is medicinal and edible (fruit), used extensively by Native Americans. 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. The root is used as a medicinal herb, it is antibilious, cathartic, cytostatic, hydrogogue and purgative, it should only be used by professional Herbalists. It is a most powerful and useful alternative medicine. A possible treatment for cancer is being tested 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 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 RecipeJelly 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 - 2007
May Apple Links Detailed Information about Growing May Apple with more herbs and flowers