A Butercup.

A Butercup.

A Butercup

There are some uncommon variations in the species. P. peltatum forma deamii has pink, rose, or purple flowers followed by maroon or red fruits. Even more rarely plants produce a cluster of fruits (forma polycarpum).


Mayapple is a native woodland plant that is widespread across most of eastern North America south to Texas in zones 3 to 8. Podophyllum peltatum is the only species in this genus in the barberry family (Berberidaceae). This herbaceous perennial typically grows in colonies from a single root in open deciduous forests and shady fields, riverbanks and roadsides. All the parts of the plant, except the fruit, contain podophyllotoxin which is highly toxic if consumed, but was used by Native Americans for a variety of medicinal purposes. Podophyllotoxin is an ingredient in prescriptiondrugs.A herbaceous member of the berberis family, from the north east of the United States, Podophyllum peltatum emerges in spring with its leaves folded downwards around a pale, fleshy stem. The leaves eventually expand to around 15 cm in diameter, giving the plant an umbrella-like silhouette. The generic name Podophyllum is a shortened version of Anapodophyllum, meaning 'leaves shaped like the foot of a duck', the individual segments having a vague resemblance to the shape of a webbed foot.

Podophyllum peltatum forma aphyllum Plitt--fertile shoots with no foliage leaves; Podophyllum peltatum forma biltmoreanum Steyermark--fruits orange; Podophyllum peltatum forma deamii Raymond--fruits and seeds maroon, and flowers, placentae, and plant axes pink-tinged; Podophyllum peltatum forma polycarpum (Clute) Plitt--flowers with multiple, free carpels.The ripe fruit of Podophyllum peltatum is considered edible; all other parts of the plant are toxic. Several lignans and their glycosides, present in the resin extracted from rhizomes and roots, exhibit antitumor activity. Etoposide, a semisynthetic derivative of one of the lignans, is currently used in the treatment of small-cell lung cancer and testicular cancer (P. M. Dewick 1983). Native Americans used Podophyllum for a wide variety of medicinal purposes and as an insecticide (D. E. Moerman 1986). (Source: www.efloras.org)



Related Articles