Saxapahaw, NC

The Flower of Carolina


  • Product Info

    Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
    Barberry Family

    Mayapple is a short, rhizomatous, shade-loving perennial that emerges in early spring and goes dormant in mid-summer. The leaves of this species are the main attraction, as the flowers are few and neatly hidden beneath large leaves. Mayapples begin to emerge in late winter and can look like little green mushrooms at first. Leaves stay furled around the stem until the stalk has fully emerged. When fully open, leaves look like little umbrellas shading the forest floor. Flowering plants will have two leaves per stem, with the flower located in the stem notch. Infertile plants have only one leaf, but are much larger, often reaching over 1’ wide. Very few flowers are produced within a colony, perhaps because large patches are often one plant with the same genetics, and flowers are self-sterile. Large white flowers are pollinated mostly by bumblebees. Green to yellow fruit is a favorite of box turtles–turtles are considered to be the primary way this plant is spread to new locations. Plant in shade to part shade in rich woodland soil. Make sure to plant with other woodland plants, as Mayapple will go completely dormant in the summer.

    Blooms: White, 1-2 weeks, March, April
    Leaves: Up to 1’ across, deeply palmate, die back by summer
    Space: 1’
    Soil: Average-Moist, organic soil with lots of leaf litter
    Exposure: Shade-Part shade
    Fauna: Mostly bumblebee pollinated, fruit for turtles
    Seeds: Large, fleshy fruit is poisonous to humans, but thought to be just the right height for box turtles to eat.
    Deer Resistance: High
    Zone: 3-8
    Native Status: NC native, common across the state
    Provenance: North Carolina and Tennessee Ecotype, asexually propagated