May apple emerges in the spring, starting to come through the soil in April. As it emerges the color change from bright green to yellowish brown. As the days warm May apple expands its leaves to form deeply lobed umbrella shaped leaves. It has a very interesting plant that spreads by underground stems to form colonies.
The bright white flower develops in between a set of paired leaves. You have to look under these leaves to see it. In late August the fruit or "apple" develops and ripens to the color of a Bartlett pear, it smells wonderful. All parts of the plant are poisonous and the fruit is as well until it is fully ripe. I say let the animals have it. I'll have a real apple.
The plant grows in rich woodland soil. It can tolerate a pretty dry soil but goes dormant early if it gets too dry. May apple makes a nice woodland ground cover. It will spread on its own but is easily brought in bounds. I use it a the edge of my garden to give that side of the garden interest as well as whimsy.
Podophyllum peltatum - May apple
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-An interesting and unusual ground cover
-Bright white flower in May
-Food source for insects and small mammals
-Height: 6 to 18 inches
-Zone: 3 to 9