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Mayapple

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  • Botanical: Podophyllum peltatum
  • Family: Berberidaceae
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Mayapple

Botanical

Podophyllum peltatum

Family

Berberidaceae

Known as

hogapple, Indian apple, mayflower, umbrella plant, wild lemon, wild mandrake, American mandrake, devil's apple, Schildförmiges Fußblatt, Maiapfel, Entenfuß, Amerikanischer Maiapfel

Old Use

medical

Parts Used

roots

Aroma

exotic

Medicinal

abdominal pain, cramps stomach, insect bites, stomach pain, vomiting, worm, tapeworms

Respiratory System

catarrh

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, stomach pain, stomach cramps, vomiting, worm

Properties

expectorant, stomachic

Description

Mayapples are woodland plants, typically growing in colonies derived from a single root. The stems grow to 30–40 cm tall, with palmately lobed umbrella-like leaves up to 20–40 cm diameter with 3–9 shallowly to deeply cut lobes. The plants produce several stems from a creeping underground rhizome; some stems bear a single leaf and do not produce any flower or fruit, while flowering stems produce a pair or more leaves with 1–8 flowers in the axil between the apical leaves. The flowers are white, yellow or red, 2–6 cm diameter with 6–9 petals, and mature into a green, yellow or red fleshy fruit 2–5 cm long.

Properties & Uses

Mayapple has been used by American Indians as an emetic, cathartic, and antihelmintic agent. They also boiled the poisonous root, and used the water to cure stomach aches.[citation needed] The rhizome of the mayapple has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, originally by indigenous inhabitants and later by other settlers. Mayapple can be also used topically for warts, and two of its derivatives, etoposide and teniposide, have shown promise in treating some malignant neoplasms.

Cautions

The ripened fruit is edible in little amounts, though when consumed in large amounts the fruit is poisonous. The rhizome, foliage and roots are also poisonous. Mayapple contains podophyllotoxin, which is highly toxic if consumed, but can be used as a topical medicine.

Distribution

widespread across most of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada

Constituents

A neutral crystalline substance, podo-phyllotoxin, and an amorphous resin, podophylloresin, both of which are purgative. It also contains picro-podophyllin, a yellow colouring matter, quercetin, sugar, starch, fat, etc. It yields about 3 per cent of ash on incinceration. Podophyllum rhizome is said to be most active when it is beginning to shoot. It is used almost entirely in the form of podophyllum resin. The resin is prepared by making a tincture of the rhizome, removing from this the greater part of the spirit by distillation and pouring the remaining liquor into water acidified with hydrochloric acid. By this means the resin is precipitated, and may be collected and dried.

For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.