MAY APPLE HOG APPLE MANDRAKE WILD LEMON
(Podophyllum peltatum) Barberry family
Flowers - White, solitary, large, unpleasantly scented, nodding
from the fork between a pair of terminal leaves. Calyx of 6
short-lived sepals; 6 to 9 rounded, flat petals stamens as many
as petals or (usually) twice as many; 1
pistil, with a thick
stigma. Stem: 1 to 1 1/2 ft. high, from a long, running
rootstock. Leaves: Of flowerless stems (from separate
root-stock), solitary, on a long petiole from base, nearly 1 ft.
across, rounded, centrally peltate, umbrella fashion, 5 to 7
lobed, the lobes 2-cleft, dark above, light green below. Leaves
of flowering stem 1 to 3, usually a pair, similar to others, but
smaller. Fruit: A fleshy, yellowish, egg-shaped, many-seeded
fruit about 2 in. long.
Preferred habitat - Rich, moist woods.
Flowering Season - May.
Distribution - Quebec to the Gulf of Mexico, westward to
Minnesota and Texas.
In giving this plant its abridged scientific name, Linnaeus
seemed to see in its leaves a resemblance to a duck's foot
(Anapodophyllum) but equally imaginative American children call
them green umbrellas, and declare they unfurl only during April
showers. In July, a sweetly mawkish, many-seeded fruit,
resembling a yellow egg-tomato, delights the uncritical palates
of little people, who should be warned, however, against putting
any other part of this poisonous, drastic plant in their mouths.
Physicians best know its uses. Dr. Asa Gray's statement about the
harmless fruit "eaten by pigs and boys" aroused William Hamilton
Gibson, who had happy memories of his own youthful gorges on
anything edible that grew. "Think of it, boys!" he wrote; "and
think of what else he says of it: 'Ovary ovoid, stigma sessile,
undulate, seeds covering the lateral placenta each enclosed in an
aril.' Now it may be safe for pigs and billygoats to tackle such
a compound as that, but we boys all like to know what we are
eating, and I cannot but feel that the public health officials of
every township should require this formula of Dr. Gray's to he
printed on every one of these big loaded pills, if that is what
they are really made of."
Previous: TWINLEAF RHEUMATISM ROOT
Next: BLOODROOT INDIAN PAINT RED PUCCOON
|ADD TO EBOOK