Newly leafing May Apples, and I sure have lots of them. Part of my land is a Kentucky – designated wetland. That’s the perfect environment for the well-storied May Apple.
Other names: Umbrella Plant, Duck Foot, American Mandrake, Wild Jalap, Racoon Berry, Hog Apple and Indian Apple.
Lest the “American Mandrake” scare you, like, don’t eat the plant or unripe fruit. The May Apple is not a real mandrake, but chowing down a plant might well do you in.
As a relevant aside, the real mandrake is a member of the Solanacae family (as is the Deadly Nightshade!). People used to think tomatoes (from that family) were poisonous. Potatoes are from that family too, don’t eat the green skin or the sprouts – same for eggplants. Tobacco to peppers to petunias, it’s a big family! I mention these simply as an example of how you can eat poisonous plants and fruit if you know what you’re doing.
So, like eating the correct part of the potato, eat only the fully ripe, yellow fruit. That is if you can beat the squirrels to it some time from late May through July. This website has pretty good information on it:
Eat the Weeds can be found at http://www.eattheweeds.com/podophyllum-peltatum-forgotten-fruit-2/
Walking through the woods is wonderful and Spring is a magical time to take it all in. From the tree-borne constellations of Redbud blossoms to the tiny, precious wildflowers, I love it!
Have you ever seen Morel mushrooms; or as they are nicknamed, “hickory chickens” or “dry land fish”? They are found in the woods commonly near uprooted trees and such. It has become a big past time for people to go “hunting” for hickory chickens. Batter dipped and fried up, nothing compares to the ‘sponge mushroom’s mild oyster flavor (hence the ‘dry land fish’ label). Some folks shun the batter, and saute them plain with butter and onion. They can be dried (never frozen!) for the off-season months (they need to be soaked in water for a few hours to reconstitute them). Or just use them dried: they can be turned into powder with a rolling pin to make a wonderful morel “spice” that can be added to sauces. Keep your eyes peeled on your walks and keep me posted if you run across any!
Hey! Yes, I sure have Hickory Chickens. If I find some this year (and remember), I’ll put up some pictures!