Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Tuesday apprenticeship in photos

Tuesday May 6th
Sunny and Breezy 66 degrees

Podophyllum peltatum is most commonly known as the mayapple,other common names include Devil's apple, hog apple, Indian apple, umbrella plant, wild lemon, and American mandrake ( not be confused with true mandrake, Mandragora officinarum, an unrelated Old World plant whose roots have been used throughout history for medicines and potions). The mayapple northeastern woodland perennial plant in the barberry family (Berberidaceae).Each plant has a single stalk topped with one or two broad, deeply divided leaves that vaguely resemble umbrellas. The two-leaved plants normally produce a single, small white flower (usually in May, thus the name) from the fork in the stem. The flower develops into a pulpy, lemon-yellow berry which ripens in late summer and is the only part of the plant that isn't poisonous (however, the berries should only be eaten in moderation, if at all).

The plant's long, thin rhizome (a horizontal underground stem from which the roots grow) is the most poisonous part, also the most useful because it contains high concentrations of the compounds podophyllotoxin and alpha and beta peltatin, all of which have anticancer properties. The rhizomes have a long history as a medicine among Native North American tribes.

The compounds/alkaloids in it are much too toxic to attempt self-medication with this plant. The FDA rates the use of this plant as "unsafe."

1 comment:

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