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Categories: Vii Wild Food On The Trail

One of the most delicious wild fruits we have is the _May-apple_ or

_mandrake_. It is finely flavored, sweet and juicy, but being a laxative

one must eat of it sparingly. It is most common in the Middle States and

reaches perfection in Ohio.

The plant is from twelve to eighteen inches high, and the large

umbrella-like leaves are lifted on smooth, straight stems. The fruit

usually grows from the fork of tw
leaves. It is yellow, lemon-shaped,

and about the size of a plum. The flesh is like that of the plum and

there are numerous seeds in fleshy seed coverings. It ripens in July and

is quite soft when fully ripe. I have sometimes gathered the firm,

yellow May-apples, put them away in a cool, dark, dry place to ripen,

and in taking them out have found them in prime condition. They will

ripen in this way without spoiling if not allowed to touch one another.

The leaves frequently measure a foot in diameter; they have from five to

nine lobes, which are notched and pointed at the tips; the upper side is

darker than the lower. While the fruit of the May-apple is edible, the

leaves and root are poisonous, not to the touch but to the taste. The

flower is a clear white with from eight to twelve rounding petals and it

generally measures about one and a half inches across. The petals expand

in the morning, become erect in the afternoon, and close at night. We

are told that the May-apple is a roadside plant, but I have found it

only in the woods.