May Apple Plant - Podophyllum is also known as Wild Mandrake, because of the similarities of the roots to the true European Mandrake, or Ground Lemon, most likely for the small, yellow fruit it bears, the May Apple plant is a hardy yet striking ground cover. Native to the Eastern region of North America, this flowering ground cover grows well in most temperate climates.
The dark green foliage and waxy, large white or pink flowers have a tropical appeal that sets them apart from the deciduous flora to which they are native. Branching stems of between 11 and 15 inches grow in dense mats from central rhizomes, sending up new shoots bearing two wide, showy, green leaves every year. While this perennial may take a year or two to flower, it is well worth the wait, as the eventual blossoms are beautiful, exotic-looking blooms ranging in color from snowy white to a rose blush. These pleasantly fragrant blossoms develop into small fruits that turn lemon-yellow in the late summer when ripe.
Now known to be poisonous if ingested, all parts of the May Apple were used for centuries in Native American medicines and remedies, and are still used in modern homeopathy. This striking plant is exceptionally hardy, thriving despite heavy shade and lack of water, although it prefers partial shade and moist soil. Equally suited to full sun, this dense foliage makes beautiful cover for almost any environment, and brings a touch of exotic elegance to the eye with the hardiness of a wildflower. The glossy green umbrella-like leaves are as stunning framing a stone path as they are filling in large spaces between other plants. While any yard or landscape would be accented beautifully by this versatile and exceptional foliage, May Apple is perfect for the gardener looking for something unique and unusual to add to the landscaping of most semi-shaded terrain.
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