Mayapple

Podophyllum peltatum

Mayapples 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.
Mayapple bloom (Podophyllum peltatum) Growing in a sunny hillside in a dense mixed forest clearing. This was the only Mayapple bloom I found last year! From what I hear, it was a bad year for finding them! Geotagged,Mayapple,Podophyllum peltatum,Spring,United States

Appearance

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 are poisonous, including the green fruit, but once the fruit has turned yellow, it can be safely eaten. The ripe fruit does not produce toxicity.

The substance they contain 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. Podophyllotoxin is highly toxic if consumed.

They are also grown as ornamental plants for their attractive foliage and flowers, and they are a larval host for the golden borer moth and the may apple borer.
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) At a mixed forest edge. Yes, that is pollen all over the plant!
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/112633/mayapple_podophyllum_peltatum.html Geotagged,Mayapple,Podophyllum peltatum,Spring,United States

Naming

Though the common name is mayapple, in some areas it is the flower that appears in early May, not the "apple". The fruit or "apple" is usually produced early in summer and ripens later in summer.
Mayapple Flower - Podophyllum peltatum Habitat: Garden
https://www.jungledragon.com/image/128315/mayapple_flower_-_podophyllum_peltatum.html Geotagged,Mayapple,Podophyllum peltatum,Spring,United States,mayapple,podophyllum

Defense

The unripe green fruit is toxic. The ripened yellow fruit is edible in small amounts, and sometimes made into jelly, though when consumed in large amounts the fruit is poisonous. The rhizome, foliage, and roots are also poisonous. Mayapple contains podophyllotoxin, which is highly toxic if consumed, but can be used as a topical medicine.

Mayapple has been used by American Indians as an emetic, cathartic, and antihelmintic agent. The rhizome of the mayapple has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, originally by indigenous inhabitants and later by other settlers.

Mayapple can be also used topically as an escharotic in removing warts, and two of its derivatives, etoposide and teniposide, have shown promise in treating some cancers. Etoposide is among the World Health Organisations's list of essential medicines and it is derived from podophyllotoxin.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomPlantae
DivisionAngiosperms
ClassEudicots
OrderRanunculales
FamilyBerberidaceae
GenusPodophyllum
SpeciesP. peltatum