Anyone buying Mayapple root? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

In the springtime I harvest the Mayapple roots. Anyone out there interested in the laxative and other curative effects of these roots?

-- Alex (, January 07, 2002


We have wild mayapple's here but I have never known what to do with them. What do you do?

-- kim (, January 07, 2002.

I thought the Mayapple was one of those plants that could not be removed from natural habitats? Native, threat of extinction, something like that?

-- Charleen in WNY (, January 07, 2002.

Reguarding the mayapple: The mayapple is described as: a small plant, not reaching above 18 inches in height. It has one broad leaf at the top of an otherwise bare stalk (excepting the fruit, which grows up this stalk, and the occasional plant which branches into never more than two seperate leaves). The leaf is large, the stalk is attached to the center of the leaf. The leaf is lobed into five to seven seperate lobes. This entire plant is light green. It prefers the moist soils of bottom lands and ccan sometimes be found- in dense patches, higher on hillsides, in forested conditions. It rarely grows in fields or well lighted area, prefering shade. This plant begins growth as early as march in the south, april and may in more northerly area (hence the name MAY...). The plant produces a smallish, edible pod, however, this pod is sometimes hard to locate for upcoming reasons. The pod is light green to yellowish. It has a hard outer husk, and inside has some seeds in the center. The pod, to my mind, tastes like lemon waermellon cross- tart and "different" tasting. The pod is found, often, after the may apple leaves have wilted and turned yellow and brown not ripe when the plant is in leaved boom. The pod is located about half way up the stem. The best way to harvest these pods is to located and earmark patches of mayapples earlier in the year while they have the readily identifieable leaves. Later, after the leaves wilt out, one simply goes to the location and harvests the pods. (Hence the ...APPLE). This plant is refered to, in some areas as Mandrove, but is not to be confused with that very different plant. I personally did not know the plant had medicinal properties, however that is not my general fort'e. I dont have a need for a laxative at the moment, but Ill keep it in mind=) .... DISCLAIMER: Pleease research any plant you think is edible, not by my description, but by several good books on the subject with pictures, to avoid mis identification. Mayapples are easy to ID, but as with anything new and potentially deadly (there are some deadly plants out there and it pays to research these along with edibles!) RESEARCH IT FIRST!

-- Kevin in NC (, January 07, 2002.

I doubt it's near extinction, I've seen forests carpeted with the stuff. The leaves and unripe fruit are poisonous and fatal if enough is eaten. The main use of the roots is to make podophyllin resin for topical use on skin for removal of warts. It's still prescribed by doctors. You should wear gloves when you're harvesting the roots.

Taking it orally for a laxative isn't too safe. Yes it works but only because you're poisoning yourself. I'm sure it's not good for your liver.

-- Dave (, January 07, 2002.

More than you will want to know:

The concentrations of podophyllotoxin in roots (sic) [rhizomes, predominantly] is too minute to require gloves when harvesting. If that were the case one should wear gloves when touching Juniper (eastern red cedar) which also contains the podophyllotoxin and other lignans. The plant morphology above is what you can read commonly but it is not correct. The apical buds on last year's rhizomes (underground stems) bear either the makings of a sexual shoot (one that will flower) or a vegetative shoot (one that will produce only a leaf). The vegetative shoot is composed of a single leaf consisting of a petiole (the "stalk") and the blade (round and as above described). A sexual shoot actually has a vertical stem that bears two leaves, each with a short petiole and blade. The true stem and the petioles have the same color, tissue, and texture - they look alike. As they arisr from the stem, a "fork" is formed by the petioles of these two leaves. A flower with its own little pedicle will develop from the bottom (axis) of this "fork" (the bottom of the fork being the apical meristem of the stem). The flower will produce the fruit.

Outside of the historical treatment for warts and use as a laxative, the compound podophyllotoxin is extracted from plant parts and used to semi-synthesize imporant drugs used in the treatment of cancer. These are etoposide, teniposide and I can't remember the third but its the one still under patent. These drugs are, I understand, the drugs of choice for testicular cancer and maybe small-cell lung cancer. Although podophyllotoxin was originally isolated from american Mayapple, and the drug development based on this, the source for the podophyllotoxin is now a closely related species from India and other spp. from China. I don't believe there is any market for plant mateiral of the american species for production of these drugs.

-- carlos (, January 10, 2002.

we in kentucky sell the roots for money dont know what for but its about 1.oo a lbs

-- matt g (, March 17, 2002.

Anyone know the current market price for dried mayapple root?

-- Jim Stamper (, April 23, 2002.

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