Podophyllum peltatum, Linne'. The dried rhizome and roots with not less than 3 p.c. of resin.

Habitat. N. America (Canada, United States) in rich woods, thickets.

Syn. Podoph., Mandrake, May Apple Rhizome, American (Wild) Mandrake, Ground (Wild) Lemon, Hog (Indian, Devil's) Apple, Duck's Foot, Umbrella Plant, Vegetable Mercury (Calomel); Br. Podophylli Rhizoma; Fr. Rhizome de Podophyllum; Ger. Fussblattwursel.

Pod-o-phyl'lum. L. fr. Gr..., foot, + ..., leaf -- i.e., its 5-7-parted leaf resembles the foot of aquatic birds or domestic fowls, as ducks, etc.

Pe-la'tum. L. peltatus, having a pelta or light shield -- i.e., petioles attached to the middle of the lamina instead of to the margin.

May apple -- i.e., plant blooms in May, thus starting the fruit, which ripens in summer (August).


Perennial herb; stem .3 M. (1 degree) high, pale green, divides near the sumit into 2 petioles, each bearing a palmately 5-7-deeply-lobed, peltate leaf 10-15 Cm. (4-6') wide, segments wedge-shaped, coarsely toothed at their ends, glaucous-green, petioles 7.5 Cm. (3') long; flowers May, borne at fork of petioles, single, nodding, white 5 Cm. (2') broad, 6-9 petals, 12-18 stamens; fruit yellowish berry, 2.5-5 Cm. (1-2') long, ovoid, fleshy, soft, indehiscent; seed about 12; often eaten by animals, hence some of its names.


of horizontal growth, creeping, subcylindrical, jointed, compressed on upper and lower surfaces, sometimes branched, 3-20 Cm. (1 1/5-8') long, internodes 2-9 Mm. (1/12-1/3') thick, nodes annulate, 12 Mm. (1/2') thick, dark brown, longitudinally wrinkled or nearly smooth with irregular, somewhat V-shaped scars of scale leaves, upper surface of nodes marked with large, circular, depressed stem-scars, sometimes with buds or stem-bases, lower surface of nodes with numerous root-scars or roots, 2-7 Cm. (4/5-3') long, 2 Mm. 1/12') thick, fracture short; internally, cork light brown, wood with yellowish vascular bundles, pith large, white; odor slight; taste disagreeably bitter, acrid.


yellowish-brown -- numerous starch grains, .003-.02 Mm. (1/3325/1/1250/) broad, few rosette aggregates of calcium oxalate, tracheae, parenchyme, cork cells; odor pronounced, characteristic. Solvents: alcohol; boiling water partially. Dose, gr. 5-15 (.3-1 Gm.).


Sanguinaria (due to similarity of leaves despite greater value) 2-3 p.c., geranium 2-3 p.c., comfrey 1 p.c.


Plants of 100 or more grow in rounded or irregular-shaped clusters (patches), 3-6 M. (10-20 degrees) broad, near wood-borders, fence-panels, or in the open, preferably on heavy soil; rhizome and roots should be collected soon after the leaves fall off, Aug.-Sept., those containing much resin being surprisingly heavy considering their appearance, breaking with an elastic, short, noisy fracture; drug often recognized in the trade as thick, thin, heavy, light, referring chiefly to physical characteristics. That collected in autumn, after flowering and fruiting, is preferred, being heavier from abundant resin content (podophyllotoxin) and breaking with a cleaner fracture.


Resin 4-5 p.c. (varying little in quantity but greatly in content (podophyllotoxin) according to season and time of collection), starch, gum, fixed oil, gallic acid, ash 2-3 p.c.

Resin (Resina Podophylli, Podophyllin), U.S.P. -- This is a complex substance consisting of: (1) podophyllotoxin, CHO6, 20-26 p.c. which is obtained after removing the fat with benzin, by precipitating the podophyllinic acid from a chloroformic solution of the resin or rhizome, by the addition of ether and then simply evaporating the ethereal solution; this is the cathartic principle, being whitish, bitter, resinous, crystallizable, soluble in chloroform, ether, acetone, alcohol; cherry-red, then greenish-blue and violet by sulphuric acid, when heated with alkalies is converted by hydration into podophyllic acid, CHO, which readily loses water, forming crystalline picropodophyllin (inactive, isomeric with podophyllotoxin); (2) podophyllinic acid, which is an inactive resin-acid, insoluble in ether, but soluble in chloroform or alcohol, and obtained by the above process for podophyllotoxin (being precipitated and left behind upon the addition of ether). The color is due to podophylloquercetin, which occurs in yellow needles, insoluble in water, slightly in chloroform, more so in ether, freely in alcohol. The small amount of uncrystalizable resin, podophylloresin, is also purgative.


1. Resina Podophylli. Resin of Podophyllum. (Syn., Res. Podoph., Podophyllin; Fr. Resine de Podophylle; Ger. Podophyllinum, Podophyllin, Podophyllumharz.)


Macerate, percolate 100 Gm. with alcohol until percolate when dropped into water produces only slight turbidity, reclaim alcohol until percolate the consistence of thin syrup, and pour this slowly, stirring constantly, into 100 cc. of water mixed with hydrochloric acid 1 cc., cool, let precipitate subside, decant supernatant liquid, wash precipitate twice by decantation, each time with cold water 100 cc., dry on strainer in a cool place exposed to air and protected from light, and if it should coalesce into lumps with a glossy surface reduce to powder in a mortar. It is an amorphous powder, light brown, greenish-yellow, darker on exposure to heat or light, slight peculiar odor, faintly bitter taste; very irritating to mucous membrane, especially that of the eye; soluble in alcohol with only slight opalescence; alcoholic solution faintly acid; 75 p.c. soluble in ether; 65 p.c. soluble in chloroform. Tests: 1. Hot aqueous solution on cooling -- deposits most of its contents; filtrate bitter with a few drops of ferric chloride T. S. -- deep yellow liquid, becoming darker on standing, from which resin is reprecipitated by acids. 3. Add .4 Gm. to 3 cc. of 60 p.c. alcohol, + .5 cc. potassium hydroxide T.S., shake -- does not gelatinize (dif. from resin in P. Emodi); ash 1.5 p.c. Should be kept dark, in well-closed containers. Dose, gr. 1/8-1 (.008-.06 Gm.).

Preps.: 1. Pilulae Aloes et Podophylli Compositae, N.F., gr. 2. Pilulae Aloes, Hydrargyri et Podophylli, N.F., 1/4 g. 3. Pilulae Aloini Compositae, N.F., 1/8 gr. 4. Pilulae Catharticae Vegetabiles, N.F., 1/4 gr.

Unoff. Preps.: Fluidextract (alcohol), dose, mv-30 (.3-2 cc.). Abstract (alcohol), dose, gr. 1/4-2 (.016-.13 Gm.). Extract (80 p.c. alcohol), dose, gr. 5-10 (.3-.6 Gm.). Tincture (Br.), 3.65 p.c. of resin in alcohol, dose, mv-15 (.3-1 cc.). Podophyllotoxin (pure), dose, gr. 1/12-1/8 (.005-.008 Gm.).


Hydragogue cathartic, cholagogue, alterative, irritant, tonic -- slowest acting official purgative. Increases intestinal secretion, bile-flow, causes copious watery stools, griping, nausea in from 10-20 hours, acts mainly on the duodenum, but is a powerful intestinal irritant, resembling jalap and calomel, only slower; large doses are distinctly poisonous, producing in the young vomiting, purging, collapse, coma, finally epileptiform convulsions. Those employed in powdering the drug have irritation of the eyes, nose, mouth, respiratory passages, and skin. The resin applied to ulcers produces purgation and is also a powerful irritant to the skin. Its action upon the liver, being somewhat similar to that of mercury, led some early to claim for it alterative properties equal to those of that metal, and for a time it was employed under the name of "vegetable calomel" in those diseases for which mercury is a recognized specific, but now it is believed to have incidentally only very slight alterative power, and to possess no property in common with mercury save that of catharsis.


Constipation, torpid liver, lead costiveness, diarrhea, catarrhal or malarial jaundice, remittent fevers, dyspepsia, bilious vomiting, and headache. With cream of tartar useful in dropsies, rheumatic, scrofulous, and syphilitic affections; should be associated with hyoscyamus or belladonna to overcome griping, and, owing to extremely slow action, should not be given in combination with brisk cathartics, but preferably with such as act in approximately the same time, as calomel, jalap, aloe, leptandra, etc. -- gr. 5 (.3 Gm.) of podophyllin (resin) have killed, so have 3iss (6 Gm.), but in one case gr. 10 (.6 Gm.) failed to produce more than abdominal pains.

Allied Plants

1. Podophyllum Emo'di, Podophylli Indici Rhizoma (Br.) -- India, Hazara, Kashmir; Himalaya Mountains; rhizome, collected after flowering, cylindrical, stem-scars crowded on upper surface, many roots beneath; yields resin (Podophylli Indici Resina--Br.) 10-14 p.c., which contains podophyllotoxin 38-63 p.c., thereby making it similar to but stronger than our official drug. Dose of resin, gr. 1/8-1 (.008-.06 Gm.).