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(Podophyllum versipelle)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Podophyllum versipelle

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    The following report is for P. hexandrum. It quite possibly also applies to this species[K].

    The whole plant, but especially the root, is cholagogue, cytostatic and purgative. The plant contains podophyllin, which has an antimiotic effect (it interferes with cell division and can thus prevent the growth of cells). It is, therefore, a possible treatment for cancer, and has been used especially in the treatment of ovarian cancer[46, 51, 57, 64, 65, 124, 244]. However, alopecia is said to be a common side-effect of this treatment[244]. This species contains about twice the quantity of active ingredient than P. peltatum[211].

    The roots contain several important anti-cancer lignans, including podophyllin and berberine[218]. The roots are also antirheumatic[218].

    The root is harvested in the autumn and either dried for later use or the resin is extracted[238]. This plant is highly poisonous and should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[238]. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women[238].

  • Edible Use

    We have no reports for this species but the fruit of several members of this genus is edible when fully ripe, though the unripe fruit is cathartic[K]. More research is required[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    We have seen no reports of toxicity for this species but all parts of the plant, except the fully ripe fruit, are almost certainly poisonous[K].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Sow stored seed in a cold frame in early spring. The seed germinates in 1 – 4 months at 15¡c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a shady part of the greenhouse for at least 2 growing seasons. Plant them out into their permanent positions in the winter when the plants are dormant. Division in March/April[111].
Prefers a moist peaty soil and filtered light or shade[4, 111]. Grows well in a moist open woodland[28, 31] and also succeeding under beech trees in a deep moist leafy soil[130]. Dormant plants are fairly hardy, but the young leaves in spring are frost tender[233]. Plants in this genus have excited quite a lot of interest for the compounds found in their roots which have been shown to have anti-cancer activity[124]. There are various research projects under way (as of 1990)[124]. This species is closely related to P. pleianthum[200]. The plant takes some years to become established[124] but is very long lived in a suitable habitat[130].
E. Asia – China, Tibet.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.