Thursday, May 30, 2013
You must look under the leaves to spot the flowers. When it is done blooming a fruit appears, the mayapple. It is the only part of the plant that is edible and I understand it is used for jellies and jams but I have never tried it myself. It's documented that the first European encounter with mayapple was in 1615 when the French explorer Samuel de Champlain encountered the plants being cultivated by the Huron Indians in modern day Canada. It is believed that the mayapples found in Canada today are there because of Indian cultivation after the last ice age! The Cherokees use the roots in traditional medicine but caution that only those portions of the rhizome between the nodes should be used, as the joints are poisonous. They use boiled root as a purgative, a drop of fresh root juice to cure deafness and powdered root to cure various ulcers and sores. In the 1970's it was discovered to be a cancer treatment, but the mayapples native to Asian countries have higher concentrations of the constituent used in the treatment.