Sunday, March 13, 2011

Treasure Hunting: May apple

In today's article I am going to discuss a plant that can be found in abundance through the months of April and May. That plant is commonly call May apple or American Mandrake. The roots of this plant can get up to six feet long and sell for around six dollars per dry pound. It does not take many of the big roots to make a ten pound bundle and they grow in very large patches. The fruit is edible in small amounts, the rest is toxic. The chemicals in the plant are being used for cancer research because they stop cell division. It is also used topically for genital warts It can be found through out the mountains of the American north east and can be sold at any place that buys any other wild plant mentioned in previous articles. More information on the plant can be found here. It never ceases to amaze me at the many uses of plants we have right around us. The power of nature can save lives and better our understanding of disease. A very good example of this would be the plantain family (not the type of banana) What I am referring to is a very common weed likely to be found in your front yard at any given time. The narrow leaved plantain has a long stemmed seed bunch that as children we would use to wipe each other for laughs.   
Though I don't know of a market where you can sell this plant, it offers a readily available herb for controling cholesterol and even diabetes. So next time you're out weeding your front lawn keep in mind just what it is you are throwing out as garbage. More info on the plantago family can be found here. As for may apple the uses are much more significant. since it is used in cancer research you are not only making a few dollars but potentially saving lives at the same time.

The tools you will need to collect this root are as follows: a large sack, something to dig with, and a large rack outside in a sunny place for drying. Once you have collected a large enough amount to satisfy yourself, wash the roots and then put them out to dry. Make sure of the weather over the next few days and make sure they do not catch moisture or else they will mold and you will have to thoroughly scrub them and restart the drying process. I would suggest either putting plastic over them at night or moving them into a dry garage to prevent them from getting dew on them. Once dry bundle them up and haul them in. It should not be hard to collect a hundred pounds of this plant or more. Chances are you have even seen it growing next to the road and never gave it a second thought. Now that you know of the importance of this plant I would suggest taking advantage of it in the short time it is available in the year. 


  1. You do such a good write up on these things. In my area it's the swamp grass that's harvested along the river every spring, just about the time the morels start. It pays better then morels, too, about 50 bucks a bag... Great post man! always a pleasure to read!

  2. A cancer fighting plant, pretty cool

  3. How does it fight cancer? Like what chemical process?>

  4. Around here once the once the May Apple's start to pop up that when its time to hunt for Morel Mushrooms, its getting close - maybe 2 more weeks then its shroomin time!!!