mayapple fruits

fairy_toadmotherMay 12, 2005

are these edible for humans? has anyone tried them, and how to prepare if at all?


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Only if they are dead ripe yellow. I haven't been able to keep the fruit on it long enough to ripen. Something gets to it before they have a chance to develop into anything.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 11:29PM
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thanks, i am also glad to not being the only one unable to find the fruit. i know it forms! deer? racoons?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 8:32PM
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Hmmm - I've always been told that all parts of the plant, fruit included, were poisonous. Am I missing something?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2005 at 5:49PM
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Here's a link that has a detailed description of the plant and fruit. Only the fruit, when it is fully ripe, can be eaten. The link does mention that the fruit has laxative qualities. I've never been able to have any get to eating stage but I'll take their word for it.


Here is a link that might be useful: Mayapple

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 9:52AM
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Thanks for the link. They carpet much of the woodlands here in VA but I've yet to see any fruit. Most probably due to all the fruit-eating wildlife we have around here - the fox especially.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 2:14PM
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thanks for the link, gooseberry!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 3:04PM
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swvirginiadave(z6 VA)

The toxins in Mayapple are really quite dangerous and bear no similarity to that of Mandrake. A preparation of Mayapple has been used in doctor's offices as a topical wart remover (it's not sold over the counter because it's too hazardous) and a derivative of the toxin is used in some cancer chemotherapy. The old herbal use as a strong laxative is very ill advised. It interferes with cell division and so kills fast growing cells (like those lining the inside of your intestine). The ripe fruits are relatively free of toxin, but a pregnant woman shouldn't take any chance since the toxin is a potent teratogen (causes birth defects).

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 7:56AM
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Just like wild mushrooms, there may be toxins or compounds that will cause negative effects on certain people, even though they may be reported as generally safe to eat. In the case of edible wild mushrooms, you should never eat a large amount until you have determined that a small amount won't cause problems. Ripe mayapples should be treated the same way, by not consuming more than a sample until you know you won't react to them.

Also, even though fully ripe mayapple fruit is considered safe to eat, the seeds are toxic and should not be eaten.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 9:46AM
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good info on the seeds, i missed that in my readings.

thanks for all the responses!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 11:32PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

I ate one once. I don't know if it was dead ripe or not, but it was ripe. It tasted like soap.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 10:20AM
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Gourdlvr(zone 6)

My Grandmother makes Mayapple preserves, you have to surround your patch with 1/4 inch screening on all sides and on top to protect them from mice. Burry the screening 6 to 9 inches. In Oklahoma one of the worst problems with them is the snakes that lay under them waiting for the mice.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 3:59PM
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hmmm, i would't like the taste of soap.

mice do not surprise me one bit! why didn't i think of those buggers?
thanks, gourdlvr!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 5:39PM
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I think I'll just enjoy looking at them. I don't think I'm that desparate to have everything in my yard an "edible" landscape just because it won't kill me.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 7:38PM
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Interesting comment about tasting like soap!! I've never tried one, so I don't know if that's a good description of these.

When I sell my berries at the farmers market, I always have samples for anyone to try, since many people don't know what a gooseberry tastes like, and different varieties have their own flavor qualities, with most of them being tart, yet having sweetness. I had one person try a sample and she couldn't get it out of her mouth fast enough, while she made a funny face at the same time. I didn't think any of my berries were that bad, even ones that were not quite ripe. What I found out later during an early morning picking period, was that using toothpaste, and then eating a gooseberry, even after an hour or two, was definitely not a good idea. There is something in the toothpaste that makes these berries taste absolutely horrible. Now, whenever anyone samples my berries and they don't seem enthusiatic about the flavor, I always mention this possibility.

Anyway, I'm wondering if there may have been more to this report of a mayapple tasting like soap.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 11:58PM
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speaking of gooseberries, though a bit off topic, i nver could stand the sourness! not even the gooseberry pie my great aunt used to make. now, i love gooseberry jam. neither can i bite into raw rhubarb which is less sour than a gooseberry to me. my sister used to dip raw rhubarb stalks in suger and eat as they are. ooh. am i missing something? i can see the toothpaste since it has the same effect with orange juice, grapes, and some other i ca't think of right now.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 5:43PM
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the 'edibles' forum isn't a place I expected to see 'toad parasols' as a topic of conversation...

of course, my mother did such a good job of emphasizing the poisonous nature of them that it wasn't until last year that I learned their flowers are really fragrant- much less that the dratted things are coveted wildflowers everywhere but my neck of the woods, where they're considered a nuisance at best, and only their 'wildflower' status keeps people from wiping them out of their low-lying areas!

:) I've GOT to send that link to me mom!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 2:18PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

I tasted the mayapple one summer when I was doing research for a wild edibles class I was teaching. I agree with breezyb, a lot of "wild edibles" taste nasty. Just because something is edible, doesn't mean it tastes good, and I think a lot of info. on wild edibles comes from the days of famines. I didn't brush my teeth first, I just ate a mayapple and said, "This is yucky and not worth the trouble." One of the best books on wild edibles is Euell Gibbons "Stalking the Wild Asparagus." He does a good job of highlighting what's worth "stalking" and what's not. Like I said, maybe that mayapple I tried wasn't fully ripe, but it didn't taste promising enough for me to bother with them again, not while the wild alpine strawberries are in fruit! :-)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2005 at 3:10PM
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alpines? obviously no contest!

i love the term "toad parasols!" right up my alley :)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 9:24PM
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nycteris(Z5a OH)

I just found and bit into a ripe mayapple.
It was fairly tasty, and the sour outer rind reminded me of a un-ripe plum, but the sweeter inner pulp (with seeds) strongly reminded me of concord grapes.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 1:20PM
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Thanks for the postings about Mayapples. They grow everywhere around here and I wondeed about them as I was watching the foods channel and some guys were making icecream in tincans on a camping trip and used Mayapples as a flavoring

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 5:28PM
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I've found a patch of mayapples, but when they're ripe, they only turn whiteish. All the info I've seen on them says that they turn yellow when ripe, but I haven't ever seen a true yellow fruit.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 12:55PM
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They don't ever get "school-bus yellow" LOL, just yellow-ish. If completely ripe, they can be squeezed, strained and sweetened for a drink sorta like lemonade.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 8:36AM
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I find a wild mayapple fruit every now and again in the TN mountains. I think it tastes fairly bland with subtle lemon and unripe plum flavors. If you happen upon one, eat it for the notoriety - but I don't think its worth looking for or trying to plant.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 12:06PM
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I use them. Whenever I find a few ripe ones. I never get enough for really using them as a separate item so this is what I do. Wash, slice and freeze in a ziplock. Keep adding to it as I find more. I also have some growing in my backyard, not much either. Then every time I am making berry or fruit preserves I add my accumulated handful of mayapples to the bulk. May have to boil them in water separately first, because they are tougher than some fruits or berries I use. They are sweetly fragrant and complement the taste of any fruit wonderfully. Yes, they need to be completely ripe - soft to the touch and fragrant. If they are not I attempt to ripen them at room temperature, occasionally successful, occasionally they just spoil. Never knew I should remove the seeds, never did.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 1:08PM
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