Podophyllum (Gr. , a foot, and , a leaf, its leaves bearing some resemblance to the foot of some web-footed animal), the botanical name of a plant of the order berberi-dacem, generally called May apple or mandrake but in some localities known as wild lemon, Indian apple, and raccoon berry. It is a perennial herb, with a brownish creeping root-stock several feet long and about one fourth of an inch thick; from this arise both flower-less and flowering stems about a foot high, the flowerless bearing a single round seven- to nine-lobed leaf, fixed to the stalk by its centre and 6 in. or more across; leaves of this kind are called peltate, and the name of the species, P. peltatum, is due to this character. The flowering steins fork above, and bear two onesided leaves with the stalk fixed near the inner edge; from the fork there hangs a white nodding flower, about 2 in. broad; it has three green bractlets at base, and six sepals, all of which fall early; the obovate petals are six to nine, in two or three series; the stamens twice as many as the petals; the pistil consists of an egg-shaped ovary with a sessile stigma, and becomes in fruit a pulpy berry one or two inches long, ovoid, and of a lemon-yellow color with some brownish spots; the numerous seeds are enclosed in a pulp, and the fruit, while it is •much liked by some, is to others unpleasant.
Our species is found in rich woodlands and marshy grounds from Canada to Louisiana; only one other species is known, which is a native of the Himalaya mountains. Its chief importance is as a drug, its use having rapidly increased with the last 20 years. The dried root has a narcotic and disagreeable odor and an acrid, nauseous taste. It is a powerful purgative, in the dose of 20 grains. The resin of podophyllum, or podophylline as it is often incorrectly called, when prepared by precipitating a concentrated tincture with water, is a brownish powder, and is comparatively pure. The officinal resin consists of two parts, one soluble and the other insoluble in ether. It is much used in medicine as a cathartic, in the dose of from a quarter of a grain to one grain. In larger doses it is apt to produce nausea and vomiting. It exerts its action principally on the upper part of the small intestines, and is thought by many to promote the action of the liver. It is used chiefly in derangements of the latter organ and in habitual constipation.
Mandrake or May Apple (Podophyllum peltatum).