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Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum).  Mayapple, also known as American Mandrake, is a low-growing plant which likes forested areas.  “In his plant taxonomy text book Flora of Missouri, author J.A. Steyermark is quoted, ‘Mayapple (P. Peltatum L.) is bitter and therefore avoided by grazing animals.  The rootstocks have been used in medicine for their cathartic properties.  Both the rootstocks and the leaves of the plant are poisonous, but the ripe fruit when pale yellow, is edible.  It may be eaten raw, having a slightly sweet, mildly acidic quality, or may be prepared into a jelly, marmalade, or preserves slightly reminiscent of the tropical guava jelly or paste.  A refreshing drink may also be prepared from the juice of the fruit when mixed with lemonade or other fruit juices, or mixed with sugar.  Some persons develop a dermatitis after handling the rootstocks.’ ” (in AR Gardener Magazine).

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Photographs by Valerie Lykes