NAME: Mayapple

LATIN NAME: Podophyllum Peltatum

OTHER NAMES: American mandrake, Wild Mandrake, May Apple, Raccoon Berry ,Indian apple, Duck Foot, Umbrella.

ORIGIN: North America

BOTANICAL INFORMATION: Mayapple is a perennial herbaceous plant from the Barberry family. Podophyllum Peltatum has a horizontal knobby rhizome up to 1 m long, 1.5 cm in diameter, reddish-brown on the outside and white on a break. Numerous roots with a length of up to 35 cm depart from the rhizome. Upright pinkish stems of a plant reach 30 cm in height and 1,5 cm in diameter. The stalk is hollow inside, 1-3 glumaceous sheathing leaves are located at its base. From the fork between the bases of leaf stalks a single flower (sometimes several flowers) on a long pedicle comes out. A single flower (sometimes several flowers) on a long pedicle come from the fork between the bases of the leaf stalks. The flowers are large, 7 cm in diameter, fragrant, white, yellow or red in color. The smell reminds melon flavor. All parts of the plant, except fruits, are poisonous. Flowering occurs in the second half of May and lasts for about three weeks. Butterflies and bumblebees are pollinators. It was noted that in nature Mayapple prefers to grow near certain plant species, which are characterized by rich production of nectar. Mayapple flowers do not form nectar on their own, that is why they use their neighbors as a “magnet” for insects. The fruit is a multi-seeded, edible, yellow, fragrant sweet-sour berry.

CHEMICAL COMPOSITION: The plant contains deoxypodophillotoxin podophyllotoxin, dehydropodophillotoxin, α-peltatin, β-peltatin, quercetin, berberine, flavonoids and lignans.
In addition, the composition of the Podophyllum Peltatum include a broad spectrum of macro elements:  potassium, magnesium, iron and trace elements: manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum.

ACTIONS: Mayapple is believed to produce anticancer, diuretic, antibilious, antiviral, emetic, laxative and vermifuge effects on our body.


  • Mayapple is believed to be effective at fighting against cancer. The mechanism of the antitumor action of Mayapple is in its blocking effect on the synthesis of DNA and RNA during mitosis. As a result, neoplasm cells lose their ability to increase their numbers;
  • It is a gastro-intestinal irritant and intestinal stimulant. Emetic and laxative effects is in its strong irritant effect on the mucous membrane of the gastrointestinal tract, which reflexively increases motility;
  • Mayapple is powerful as a treatment for gynecologic infections;
  • American ethnic groups used Mayapple as a remedy to get rid of worms in the intestines;
  • Its greatest power lies in its action on the liver and bowels.


  • Pregnant and lactating women must not use it;
  • Immunosuppressed patient should avoid using it;
  • Individual intolerance to the herb components;
  • People with herpes recidivicus are also advised not to consume Mayapple.

The first mention of Mayapple dates back to 1619. North American Indians actively used Wild Mandrake as an emetic, anthelmintic and laxative remedy. There is a historical fact that North American Indians wore dried pieces of rhizomes of Mayapple around their necks, as an amulet. There is also evidence of the use of parts of Wild Mandrake to commit suicide. In general, Mayapple was tentatively used to treat a wide variety of diseases such as typhoid prostatitis, fever, dysentery, cholera, hepatitis, rheumatism, venereal diseases, and even hearing loss. At the beginning of the XIX century, the plant was comparatively investigated, it was included into the American pharmacopeia, and then into the European one. Despite the fact that the Harvard botanist A. Gray described the fruits of Podophyllum Peltatum as “food for pigs and boys”, many people ate them as a food.

*This article is for informational purposes only. We suggest consulting a physician before using these or any other herbal supplements.