MAY APPLE, American Mandrake
May Apple is also known as Devil’s Apple, Racoonberry, Wild Lemon.
Caution! May apple root can be toxic. Do not use while pregnant!
May Apple is a perennial native herb found in moist soils in rich woods. May apple grows a stem that will separate into two separate, large green, palmate, lobed leaves if it is going to flower. If not, it will produce a single umbrella shaped palmate leaf. Look for the large white flower on a short peduncle growing right between the leaves. It will flower in late April or May.
May apple flowers turn into crabapple-sized edible fruits. It us used extensively by American Indians as a ripe fruit that is eaten raw, cooked, or made into jams, jellies and pie.
May Apple seeds are not edible and are said to be poisonous, but are currently being studied for their healing, anticancer (it interferes with cell division) and other medicinal properties.
The resin of May Apple, obtained from the root, is used to treat warts. Do not use while pregnant!
May Apple was once called the witches umbrella. In English lore it is called the Manroot or mandrake (like those used in Harry Potter). The story is that the root is alive and if pulled from the ground its screams would render a person permanently insane.
All parts except the fleshy part of the fruit are TOXIC!
(Source: The Nature Nuts News-May 2010 edition)