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Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)


“Pet poisonous” – Toxic parts: unripe fruit, roots, foliage The Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is a herbaceous perennial plant in the family Berberidaceae, native to the eastern part of North America. Other common names include Devil's apple, Hogapple, Indian apple, Umbrella plant (for the shape of the leaves), Wild lemon (for the flavor of the fruit), Wild mandrake, and American mandrake (for the shape of rhizomes). The stems grow to 20-40 cm tall, with palmately lobed leaves up to 20-30 cm diameter with 5-9 deeply cut lobes. The plant produces two growth forms. The form with a single umbrella-like leaf does not produce any flower or fruit. Stems having a twin leaf (rarely three-leaf) structure, however, bear a single white flower 3-5 cm diameter with six (rarely up to nine) petals, between the two leaves; this matures into a yellow-greenish fruit 2-5 cm long. The plant appears in colonies in open woodlands. Individual shoots are often connected by systems of thick tubers and rhizomes. The rhizome of the mayapple has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, originally by Native Americans and later by other settlers. All the parts of the plant, excepting the fruit, are poisonous. This plant can kill humans within 24 hours. Even the fruit, though not dangerously poisonous, can cause unpleasant red/yellow diarrhea. The plant contains podophyllotoxin, which is used as a cytostatic and topically in the treatment of genital warts.

Taxonomic tree

  • Domain: Eukarya

    • Kingdom: Plantae

      • Phylum: Magnoliophyta

        • Class: Magnoliopsida

          • Order: Ranunculales

            • Family: Berberidaceae

              • Genus: Podophyllum