AskDefine | Define mayapple

Dictionary Definition

mayapple n : North American herb with poisonous root stock and edible though insipid fruit [syn: May apple, wild mandrake, Podophyllum peltatum]

Extensive Definition

Podophyllum peltatum (the mayapple) is a herbaceous perennial plant in the family Berberidaceae, native to the eastern part of North America.
The stems grow to 30-40 cm tall, with palmately lobed leaves up to 20-30 cm diameter with 5-9 deeply cut lobes. The plant produces two growth forms. The ones with a single umbrella-like leaf do not produce any flower or fruit. The plants having a twin leaf (rarely three-leaf) structure, however, bear a single white flower 3-5 cm diameter with six (rarely up to nine) petals, between the two leaves; this matures into a yellow-greenish fruit 2-5 cm long. The plant appears in colonies in open woodlands. Individual shoots are often connected by systems of thick tubers and rhizomes.
Despite the common name mayapple , it is the flower that appears in early May, not the "apple", which appears later during the summer. The Mayapple is also called the Devil's apple, Hogapple, Indian apple, Umbrella plant (shape of the leaves), Wild lemon (flavor of the fruit), Wild mandrake, and American mandrake (shape of rhizomes).
According to Brian Fondren, the rhizome of the mayapple has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, originally by Native Americans and later by other settlers. , which is used as a cytostatic and topically in the treatment of genital warts.
mayapple in Italian: Podophyllum peltatum
mayapple in Japanese: ポドフィルム
mayapple in French: Berberidaceae
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