Podophyllum peltatum

Podophyllum peltatum
Podophyllum peltatum

Podophyllum peltatum.jpg
Binomial:Podophyllum peltatum
Type:Herbaceous perennial
Light requirements:Sun to shade
Bloom season:Mid-spring
Weediness:Can be weedy
Seed Dispersal:Fruits attractive to tortoises and small mammals
Toxicity and edibility:Highlt toxic to humans and livestock.

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. [1]

Growing ConditionsEdit



The rhizome of the mayapple has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, originally by Native Americans and later by other settlers. [1]

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 [2], which is used as a cytostatic and topically in the treatment of genital warts.




Pests and DiseasesEdit


  1. a b Fondren, Brian T. "Mayapple". Ethnobotanical leaflets. http://www.siu.edu/~ebl/leaflets/mayapple.htm. Retrieved 2006-06-03. 
  2. Moraes, R.M., H. Lata, E. Bedir, M. Maqbool, and K. Cushman. 2002. On American Mayapple as practical source of podophyllotoxin p. 527–532. In: J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.), Trends in new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.
  • Neltje Blanchan (2002). Wild Flowers: An Aid to Knowledge of our Wild Flowers and their Insect Visitors. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.