Other common names: Mandrake, May Apple, May-apple
Barberry family -- Berberidaceae
Distinctive features: Large deeply cut leaves. Single large white
flower under the leaves. Single yellow fruit. One of the first plants to come up
in the spring.
Height: Up to about 15" tall.
Flowers: A single flower per plant, white, often hidden under the
large leaves. Spring. Most plants do not flower in any given year.
Leaves: Large, umbrella-like. Flowering plants have two large
leaves, non-flowering ones have one.
Habitat: Forests. Sometimes these plants carpet the forest floor.
Sometimes they grow in open fields as well.
Comments: The ripe fruits are edible. CAUTION: Do not eat the
fruit until it is ripe. Ripe fruits are yellow and soft. Unripe
fruits are greenish and not soft. They are slightly poisonous
when unripe: green fruits are strongly cathartic. Mayapples are among the first plants to come up in the spring.
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