Wednesday, June 9, 2010

American Mandrake

Here in the WildWoods, there are huge patches of American Mandrake. It is also known by the names Mayapple, Devil's Apple, or Indian Apple. It is a perennial native herb which grows in the moist, rich soils of woods, thickets, and pastures in Eastern North America - southern Maine to Florida and as far west as Texas and Minnesota. American Mandrake prefers deep shade and spreads by a creeping rhizome. It can be cultivated by sowing seeds in Autumn or transplanting seedlings in the Spring. 

The May Apple grows to a height of 18 inches with a stem that resembles an umbrella. The large, white blooms grow right in between the leaves and will appear in April to May. The fruit ripens in early summer and will be crab-apple size. 

American Mandrake is also known as the Witch's Umbrella and was thought to be employed by them as a poison. Which is not far from the truth as the roots of this plant are quite toxic!! I have not 'yanked' any of these plants from the ground to see if their screams are ear piercing or would render a person insane - like it's English Cousin.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I can't hear the word Mandrake without thinking about those wailing little roots on Harry Potter LOL The flower is beautiful though!