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Humboldt Botanical Gardens Mission is to Inspire, Educate and Grow everyone in or near Humboldt County and Northwestern California though work with schools, clubs and the community.

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Chinese May Apple

In the Moss Family Temperate Woodland Garden growing in the deep shade under the Cornus capitata is Podophyllum pleianthum , Chinese May Apple. This beautiful perennial plant is native to Central and southeastern China. This plant is easy to grow in moist, acidic, organically rich, leafy, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. With consistent and even moisture, the leaves of this may apple usually remain attractive in the garden until first fall frost. The Eastern North American native Podophyllum peltatum goes dormant in summer. If happy these plants will spread by rhizomes over time. Plants may self-seed in the garden. This is a clump-forming perennial that typically grows to 18-24" tall. Each plant bears a single stem crowned with one or two, large, very glossy, shallowly-lobed (6-10 lobes each), umbrella-shaped leaves (to 12-16" wide). From the crotch (leaf axil) on two leaved plants, a pendulous cluster (5-9 flowers each) of large, nodding, bell-shaped, malodorous, maroon-red flowers blooms in spring. Flowers are quite showy, but unfortunately are usually hidden beneath the large leaves, we planted ours next to the stairway so visitors will be able to look up under the leaves to see the flowers and fruits.

Genus name comes from the Greek words pous or podos meaning a foot and phyllon meaning a leaf with reference to the shape of the leaf.. Most sources say there are no serious insect or disease problems. At HBG the snails and slugs find the leaves very tasty.


By June Walsh Curator, Moss Family Temperate Woodland Garden