Six species; see text
Podophyllum is a genus of six species of herbaceous perennial plants in the family Berberidaceae, native to eastern Asia (five species) and eastern North America (one species, Mayapple P. peltatum). They 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.
All the parts of the plant, excepting the fruit, are poisonous. Even the fruit, though not dangerously poisonous, can cause unpleasant indigestion.
The substance they contain (podophyllotoxin or podophyllin) is used as a purgative and as a cytostatic. Posalfilin is a drug containing podophyllin and salicylic acid that is used to treat the plantar wart.
They are also grown as ornamental plants for their attractive foliage and flowers.
- Podophyllum aurantiocaule. Southwest China (Yunnan).
- Podophyllum delavayi. Southwest China.
- Podophyllum hexandrum. Western China, Himalaya.
- Podophyllum peltatum - (Mayapple). Eastern North America.
- Podophyllum pleianthum. Central and southeast China.
- Podophyllum versipelle. China, Tibet.
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