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Mayapple Rust

May 2, 2006
Mayapple (AKA mandrake or ground lemon) has the scientific name of Podophyllum peltatum. I have seen mayapple growing as a woodland plant, but it also could be used in a garden, if contained. It quickly establishes and takes over any open areas. It requires partial shade and a moist, acidic location.

Mayapple rust is a striking disease seen only infrequently at the Plant Clinic, probably because this host is not usually submitted. Mayapple is affected by rust in the spring. Yellow or light green spots appear on the upper surface of leaves, as seen in image 060301, taken by Piatt County Extension staff.

The underside of leaves reveals the orange- to rust-colored spores and pustules below each light green spot (image 060302).

Sometimes, leaves pucker where lesions occur. The disease may even cause some leaf drop. Still, the plant seems to tolerate the disease without permanent injury. It is not considered a problem and does not require treatment.

No alternate host is required for mayapple rust. This fact makes it an autoecious rust. A heteroecious rust, such as cedar–apple rust, requires two species of plants to complete its life cycle.