Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: American Mayapple, Mandrake Root
Podophyllum peltatum

Family: Berberidaceae (bear-ber-id-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Podophyllum (po-do-FIL-um) (Info)
Species: peltatum (pel-TAY-tum) (Info)

10 vendors have this plant for sale.

46 members have or want this plant for trade.

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12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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11 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive plant_it On May 25, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

This gorgeous plant is native to the U.S. It's such a delight to see it in the woods.

The flowers are pollinated by bumblebees and other long-tongued bees. The foliage is avoided by deer because of its poisonous qualities and bitter taste. The berries are edible if they are fully ripe. They are eaten by box turtles and possibly by such mammals as opossums, raccoons, and skunks. The seeds are distributed to new locations in the faeces of these animals.

Positive wendymadre On Apr 30, 2011, wendymadre from Petersburg, VA wrote:

In Petersburg, Virginia, Zone 7, mayapples grow beside the trails running west from town along the Appomattox River. They are growing in the dappled shade, and in fairly deep shade.

Neutral jleigh On May 16, 2010, jleigh from Ballston Lake, NY (Zone 5a) wrote:

I saw this plant growing in the wild on a hike in the Adirondacks. The pretty little flower tucked under a large canopy of leaf... Prefers shade and nutrient rich soil of a woodland garden.
The roots are supposedly used medicinally, but all parts of plant are toxic to humans and animals if ingested in bulk. Reaction depends on sensitivity and of course weight of both the amount ingested and the ingestee.

Positive hart On Apr 25, 2009, hart from Shenandoah Valley, VA wrote:

One of the signs of spring here is the mayapples magically popping up almost overnight along the roadsides in wooded areas. The blooms are mostly hidden by the foliage, but that's okay - the foliage is such a fresh, bright green and a welcome sight after winter.

This plant is apparently juglone tolerant and is thriving in fairly dry shade under a black walnut in my yard.

Neutral Malus2006 On Dec 20, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

For me this species is rather slow to mulitply or even to flower - it stays in the same spot for at least three to four years for me now. Another house not too far away have it multiply like crazy.

Positive Colquhoun On Apr 20, 2008, Colquhoun from Champaign, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

Had the hardest time getting this little gem to thrive, but after 3 years it took off. Truly a native gem.

Positive creekwalker On Oct 26, 2007, creekwalker from Benton County, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

I have tried for a few years to find the fruit of this plant so I could try it. The animals must love them! I have a few patches growing on my land and I will watch them flower and the fruit begin, but it always disappears before it's ripe.

This plant doesn't seem to be invasive even though it can grow in large colonies and then it dies out early and is gone for most of the summer.

Positive Leehallfae On May 8, 2006, Leehallfae from Seattle, WA wrote:

Mayapple did very well in my container garden in the summer/fall of 2005. Consistently produced lovely blooms.

It is an easy-care plant.

Positive vorlonken On Apr 30, 2006, vorlonken from Andover, CT wrote:

I first discovered this plant growing on our property in Preston, CT. It makes a wonderful groundcover where it gets semi-shade. The sunnier the location the earlier it goes dormant, so at least partial shade is important. Under the correct conditions this plant forms dense colonies of overlapping leaves that will shade out other weeds. It is a very effective weed controlling groundcover!

I transplanted a few plants to my small property in Willimantic where it completely filled a difficult location under a maple tree on my property line in about 5 years. I always looked forward to seeing it come up because I knew for sure that Spring had arrived.

When I moved to a 3.5 acre property in Andover 5 years ago I again brought some plants with me and planted them in various locations where I thought they'd be happy and that were in need of this kind of colonizing plant. For some reason they have not prospered. They do come up every year but they are not spreading the way I want them to. I just collected about 30 additional plants from the original Preston location and will try them in some different locations where I hope they will do well.

I really love this native plant and I can't recommend it highly enough. In the proper location it will colonize a large area in a few years. If it goes further than you like it is easy to remove encroaching plants - so while it spreads I would not call it invasive. It's not hard to control at all. The rhizomatus root system runs about 1" under the soil.

Positive WUVIE On Feb 14, 2006, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Several years back, I would admire these plants
each spring alongside the highway. They seem
like little Brownie umbrellas to me, and gave way for
the imagination to go wild.

To make a long story short, I found a small patch on our
property, transplanted them and waited patiently for
the bloom. I kept my fingers crossed for more the following

Fast forward to 2003. Upon walking about our property
in early spring, I happened upon the largest patch of
Mandrake I'd ever seen, right there in our own back
yard so to speak, and I never even knew they were

What a sight! It looked like something out of a movie, so
lush, so green, so shiny!

I can't wait until this spring, where I will sneak in a
visit to my own little Brownie Patch in the back yard
and a picture for Dave's Garden to boot.

Positive suncatcheracres On Feb 21, 2004, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

Large patches of this plant grow in the steeply ridged woods behind my son's house in Coweta County, Georgia, about 40 miles Southwest of Atlanta. Of course before his subdivision was bulldozed in, I'm sure they grew on his property too, as that whole ridge is second growth oaks, hickory, and some tulip poplar, with mainly dogwoods and black gums as understory. This ridge falls down to a boulder strewn rushing creek that goes pretty rapidly through a steep drop at this point, and while I was living there it was always fun to walk the dogs through the deer paths in these woods and look at all of the various wild flowers. These plants grew in the sunniest part of the woods, I noticed, and weren't found in the really steep, densely shaded parts.

Positive jesup On Feb 20, 2004, jesup from Malvern, PA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Member of the barberry family; they grow wild in patches over a wide area of the eastern US and Canada. They spear up through leaves, etc early in the spring and spread a canopy 12-18" high and 8-16" wide. Shoots with a single canopy have no flower; ones with a dual canopy will develop a flower. They mostly spread by thick, deep rhizome and form patches.

It makes a good groundcover for the early part of the year; at least in this area of PA it tends to disappear by mid-summer when the fruit ripens - around July to September, depending on location. Also it appears vulnerable to an orange rust fungus. It does not need direct sunlight though it tolerates it. Once established it spreads readily.

As stated, they are very poisonous in general (potentially fatally so). They are not "true" mandrake, which is a European plant of the nightshade family. The fruit is edible (though the seeds are poisonous) and is considered by some to be a delicacy, but apparently it has a significant laxative effect. Supposedly it tastes lemony or somewhat like a "paw-paw" (Asimina triloba). When ripe it is a pale yellowy color. Recipes for it can be found in wild edible plant books; it can be eaten raw or made into pies, jellies or preserves; and it also can be juiced.

Native Americans used the plant medicinally. Warning: apparently a few people get dermatitis after handling the rootstock.

Positive NatureChild On Apr 7, 2003, NatureChild wrote:

There are about 10 species of the mayapple throughout North America. The fruits are edible and taste like lemon. The rest of the plant is highly toxic. The rhizomes contain a cancer fighting substance and is listed in the US Pharmacopeia but it is way too intense for do-it-yourselfers
Please don't try it at home.

Neutral dave On Apr 12, 2001, dave wrote:

A single stem with 2 leaves per plant. Directly between the two leaf nodes a flower will appear, leaving behind a mayapple fruit.

Grows usually in wooded areas to a height of 12 to 18 inches tall. The flower is white and blooms in April.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Gadsden, Alabama
Oakman, Alabama
Pelham, Alabama
Malvern, Arkansas
Morrilton, Arkansas
Mountain Home, Arkansas
Andover, Connecticut
East Haddam, Connecticut
Cordele, Georgia
Monroe, Georgia
Anna, Illinois
Champaign, Illinois
Jacksonville, Illinois
La Grange Park, Illinois
Lake Zurich, Illinois
Machesney Park, Illinois
Washington, Illinois
Valparaiso, Indiana
Barbourville, Kentucky
Benton, Kentucky
Cadiz, Kentucky
Custer, Kentucky
Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Melbourne, Kentucky
Monticello, Kentucky
Murray, Kentucky
Brunswick, Maine
Baltimore, Maryland
Brookeville, Maryland
Cumberland, Maryland
Frederick, Maryland
Oakland, Maryland
Valley Lee, Maryland
Beverly, Massachusetts
Northfield, Massachusetts
Rochdale, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts
Wayland, Massachusetts
Worcester, Massachusetts
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Caro, Michigan
Eastpointe, Michigan
Erie, Michigan
Pinconning, Michigan
Royal Oak, Michigan
Smiths Creek, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota (2 reports)
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Marietta, Mississippi
Cole Camp, Missouri
Fulton, Missouri
Grovespring, Missouri
Piedmont, Missouri
Rindge, New Hampshire
Neptune, New Jersey
Ballston Lake, New York
Brooklyn, New York
Croton On Hudson, New York
High Falls, New York
Jordan, New York
Salt Point, New York
Wynantskill, New York
Burlington, North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Lumberton, North Carolina
Trinity, North Carolina
Blanchester, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Fresno, Ohio
Lewis Center, Ohio
Swanton, Ohio
Youngstown, Ohio
Claremore, Oklahoma
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Florence, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
Greencastle, Pennsylvania
Havertown, Pennsylvania
Malvern, Pennsylvania
Mifflintown, Pennsylvania
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
West Newton, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Collinwood, Tennessee
Lenoir City, Tennessee
Michie, Tennessee
Viola, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Dike, Texas
Huntsville, Texas
New Caney, Texas
Blacksburg, Virginia
Fort Valley, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia
Seattle, Washington
Elkins, West Virginia
Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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