Mayapples Yellow When Ripe for Lemonade

Mayapple, or American Mandrake, is one of those interesting plants that is easy to recognize because of its uniqueness. No other plant looks quite like the umbrella plant, does it? One or two deeply cut leaves have an overall round shape with a truly variegated edge. No two leaves seem to be alike, yet they are similar.

Appropriately named Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum, starts blooming in the beginning of May. A single large white flower about two inches across blooms underneath the cover of one or two large leaves. The leaves seem to protect the flowers kind of like an umbrella. Check out some nice photos of Mayapple flowers in an earlier post about this native woodland plant.

Mayapple fruit at the fork of two large umbrella-like leaves.
Mayapple fruit at the fork of two large umbrella-like leaves.

Photo above taken 6 June 2010.

A single ripening fruit juts out from between the fork of two Mayapple leaves. I’m not sure what blight caused the yellow spots on the leaves of this Mayapple, but when the foliage is dying back it sometimes happens. Into July we can find mayapples turning yellow even though much of the foliage has already withered away.

The fruit is edible and can be enjoyed as a refreshing cold drink. One year I picked a handful of yellow fruit, cut them up and squeezed out the liquid in to a glass of ice cubes. I expected more of a citrus taste as Peterson’s Edible Plant Guide suggested the juice could be added to lemonade. Without sugar it would have been too tart and bland at the same time. At the very least Mayapple fruits are a survival food packed with vitamin C.

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2 thoughts on “Mayapples Yellow When Ripe for Lemonade

  1. I had some mayapples this year for the first time and I was surprised how much they tasted like pineapple ?? I saved all the seeds too! Do they need to stratified do you think?

  2. Hey Amber!
    We made some Mayapple “lemonade” which didn’t really taste like lemonade, but there was a bit of pineapple flavor. Needed sugar, but it was fun to make with the kids!

    As far as saving the seeds I have no experience, but are they hard? Stratifying might work, but I’d guess you’d have more luck propagating mayapple by digging up some roots and transplanting them.

    Do let us know how it turn out for ya!

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