Monday, May 04, 2015

For Those HP Fans

If you have read the books or seen the series of movies of Harry Potter and his introduction into magic, you may remember the class where they are learning about the magic of plants.  This has stimulated a little lesson plan for when my 10-year-old comes to visit this summer.  I have a volunteer Podophyllum peltatum L. growing at the edge of my woods.  It has common names such as Mayapple, Devil’s Apple, Hog-apple, IndianApple, American Mandrake, American May Apple,Racoonberry, and Wild Lemon.

In the book Harry takes a class on how to transplant the mandrake root, which (in actual folklore) has the reputation of screaming so loudly that it will drive humans permanently mad.  

It is called May Apple because it blooms in May...duh!


It grows in shade areas rich with humus and seems to spread by runners, but I also understand you can grow it from seed (which I may try next year.)  Since my plants grow in a rather innocuous place where an aggressive weed-eater or lawn mower can damage them, I have enclosed the area with a knee-high plant support fence!  I may top dress it with more humus laden stuff this fall.  Other than that, I do nothing for this plant.  It is hardy and is found on woodland walks if you look carefully.




The simple flowers hide beneath those large palmate leaves, so you have to stick your nose down to see them.  Later they form an edible fruit, and I hope to remember to take a photo of that when I return from my trip if the fruit is still handing around.

According to botanical articles the plant is poisonous in some parts, used by herbalists with other, and the fruit itself is edible and was eaten by the American Indian.  Here it probably is eaten by my box turtles!

Check out your yard because it grows in many areas and there is a version on the European continent as well.

10 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

It is very beautiful. I don't think I have seen it growing wild in England though I am no botanist.

messymimi said...

Yes, i remember the mandrakes from the Harry Potter series. It makes me wonder what started the rumor about the roots screaming. Folklore is fascinating, i always wonder what brought these beliefs into being.

Celia said...

Their roots do look like little men at times. Using the plant for fertility is is mentioned in Genesis, chapter 30. Leah's son had harvested some mandrakes and Rachael requests the use of some to help get pregnant. Don't know much about the origins of any of this.

ellen abbott said...

pretty little flower

Red said...

The study of the use of plants by native Americans shows that they accurately used plants in their medicine.

Linda Reeder said...

I love these big fleshy plants that spring out of the ground early and fade away by mid-summer.

Mage said...

Not here, but it's charming.

Bob Bushell said...

You like Harry Potter, yes, it is the May Apple, blooming well.

barbara judge said...

The flower is simple but beautiful but the leaves, to me, are fantastic. -- barbara

kerrdelune said...

I am going to look, Tabor, but it may take a while - I have 210 acres to cover. The plants and flowers are lovely though, and it would be grand to find a few.