Mayapple or Mandrake (Podophyllum peltatum L.)

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Transcript Mayapple or Mandrake (Podophyllum peltatum L.)

Mayapple or Mandrake
(Podophyllum peltatum L.)
Family: Berberidaceae (bear-ber-id-AY-see-ay) Berberis is
the Latinized form of the Arabian name for the barberry fruit.
A member of the Berberis (barberry) genus.
Genus: Podophyllum (po-do-FIL-um) Means with stout or
thick leaf or petiole
Species: peltatum (pel-TAY-tum) Round shield, referring to
shape of leaf and position of stalk in center of leaf
Mayapple or Mandrake
Other common names include the
mandrake, May apple and May-apple,
umbrella plant, duck’s foot, ground
lemon, hog apple, American
mandrake, devil’s apple, Indian apple,
wild lemon, Bajialian and raccoon
The Mayapple or Mandrake Root is a perennial in the
barberry family. It is native to northeastern North America
and has been used medicinally for hundreds of years by 1st
Nations peoples to treat constipation, wart removal,
rheumatism and liver disorders as well as a laxative. It is
presently being studied for its possible treatment of
May Apple
The yellow-green, maplelike leaflets are deeply
lobed and are large,
umbrella-like when they first
appear each spring. The leaf
stalk arises from the ground.
Flowering plants have two
large leaves, non-flowering
ones have one.
The leaf stalk can be about 37
cm tall.
The stem is located
underground and is called a
There is a single white flower with a pale yellow centre. It has no
stalk but grow from the axil of two long-stalked leaflets. It is usually
well hidden under the large leaves on a nodding stem. It flowers
early in the spring but most of the plants do not flower in any given
May Apple
The ripe fruits are yellow and
soft and edible, but in limited
quantity. The fruit have a
lemon-like flavour and
historically have been used to
make jams, jellies and
The leaves, roots and unripe
fruits are greenish and not soft
and slightly poisonous as well
as strongly cathartic.
Eating the unripe fruit could
result in coma, diarrhea,
headache, fever, salivation or
In Altona Forest, Mayapple forms a carpet
over the forest floor in a number of
locations. One of these is along the
parking lot trail near the first rest station.
May Apple
The Mayapple, which is often called American mandrake, is different from
European mandrake with different properties and different uses. Podophyllum
(sometimes called podophyllin) is a resin from mayapple roots and rhizomes.
Podophyllum can be used mainly to remove warts and is definitely not safe to
take by mouth. Experiments are on-going in the area of treating certain forms of
cancer. As a herbal supplement, it is available in capsule form in some health
food stores.
1st Nations people used the ground powdered rhizomes in the autumn as a
laxative or to get rid of intestinal worms and as a poultice to treat warts and
tumorous growths on the skin.
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