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Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Also known as may apple.

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A long-lived perennial plant native to forests of Eastern North America.

Range - Expand


This tentative map is based on the FHWA's ERA. This data lacks information on Canada, but also overestimates native ranges, especially around the edges, as this post explains. We have not yet reviewed or fixed this map.

USDA Plants Profile for Podophyllum peltatum

Illinois Wildflowers Page for Podophyllum peltatum

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Moist, deciduous woodlands, including both closed-canopy forests and more open forests and forest fragments. Mayapple is found in intact wild forests, but it adapts better to habitat fragmentation and disturbance than many species found in these ecosystems.

It has been classified as obligately mycorrhizal, meaning that it is dependent on a symbiotic relationship with soil fungi.

Life Cycle

Mayapple is a long-lived perennial that is sometimes viewed as a spring ephemeral, but that has a slightly longer growing season than most spring ephemerals. Reproduces both vegetatively and by seed, but puts more energy into vegetative reproduction. Establishes large colonies which produce both flowering and non-flowering stalks.

Seedlings are slow to get established, and producing infertile stalks and not spreading by rhizomes for the first few years. Eventually, begins spreading by rhizomes to form a colony, and starts producing flowering stalks.

Plants are usually self-infertile, and will only produce fruit after cross-pollination, but some plants have developed self-compatibility.

Foliage dies down by late summer in moist, shaded settings, and earlier under drier or sunnier conditions.

Colonies of plants are long-lived.

Faunal Associations

According to Illinois Wildflowers, the flowers are pollinated by bumblebees and other long-tongued bees, the larvae of the sawfly Aglaostigma quattuordecimpunctatum feed on the leaves, and adult thrips of the species Ctenothrips bridwelli feed on the foliage as well.

The fruits are consumed by box turtles and possibly small mammals, and the seeds pass through the digestive tracts of these animals.


Sometimes used in gardens, particularly under shade trees and in forest-like settings. Can be used as a groundcover, although its foliage usually dies down by late summer. Valued for its distinctive foliage, ease of transplanting, and ability to thrive in shaded parts of gardens.

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