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Toxic parts

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].

Edible uses


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].


Material uses

There are no material uses listed for Podophyllum pleianthum.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The roots contain podophyllin and berberine, they are used to make an anticancer drug for treating tumours of the genital organs[1].

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[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]. However, alopecia is said to be a common side-effect of this treatment[8]. This species contains about twice the quantity of active ingredient than P. peltatum[9]. The roots contain several important anti-cancer lignans, including podophyllin and berberine[1]. The roots are also antirheumatic[1].

The root is harvested in the autumn and either dried for later use or the resin is extracted[10]. This plant is highly poisonous and should only be used under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[10]. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women[10].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


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[11].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Podophyllum pleianthum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a moist peaty soil and filtered light or shade[12][11]. Grows well in a moist open woodland[13][14] and also succeeding under beech trees in a deep moist leafy soil[15].

Dormant plants are fairly hardy, but the young leaves in spring are frost tender[16]. 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[7]. There are various research projects under way (as of 1990)[7]. This species is closely related to P. versipelle[17].

The plant takes some years to become established[7] but is very long lived in a suitable habitat[15].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Podophyllum pleianthum. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Podophyllum pleianthum.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Podophyllum pleianthum
Imported References
Edible uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
partial sun
permanent shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Polunin. O. and Stainton. A. Flowers of the Himalayas. Oxford Universtiy Press (1984-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.1 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    5. ? 5.05.1 Howes. F. N. Vegetable Gums and Resins. Faber ()
    6. ? 6.06.1 Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (1984-00-00)
    7. ? RHS. The Garden. Volume 113. Royal Horticultural Society (1988-00-00)
    8. ? Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Coventry. B. O. Wild Flowers of Kashmir Raithby, Lawrence and Co. (1923-00-00)
    10. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.1 Sanders. T. W. Popular Hardy Perennials. Collingridge (1926-00-00)
    12. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    13. ? Knight. F. P. Plants for Shade. Royal Horticultural Society. ISBN 0-900629-78-9 (1980-00-00)
    14. ? Brown. Shade Plants for Garden and Woodland. ()
    15. ? 15.015.1 ? The Plantsman. Vol. 4. 1982 - 1983. Royal Horticultural Society (1982-00-00)
    16. ? Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.1 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)