Podophyllum peltatum (Scientific name)

General poisoning notes:

May-apple (Podophyllum peltatum) is a native herb of moist woods in parts of southeastern Canada. May-apple extracts have been used in folk medicine and pharmaceuticals. Misuse has caused toxic reactions and even fatalities. Workers in the extraction process have developed dermatitis. Ingesting the ripe fruit may, at worst, cause catharsis. Cattle, sheep, and swine have been poisoned after ingesting may-apple vegetation (McIntosh 1928, Rosenstein et al. 1976).

References:

  • Cassidy, D. E., Drewry, J., Fanning, J. P. 1982. Podophyllum toxicity: a report of a fatal case and a review of the literature. J. Toxicol. Clin. Toxicol., 19: 35-44.
  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.
  • McIntosh, R. A. 1928. May apple poisoning in a cow. Ont. Vet. Coll. Rep., 29: 18-20.
  • Rosenstein, G., Rosenstein, H., Freeman, M., Weston, N. 1976. Podophyllum - a dangerous laxative. Pediatrics, 57: 419-421.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Podophyllum peltatum L.
Vernacular name(s):
May-apple
Scientific family name:
Berberidaceae
Vernacular family name:
barberry

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Podophyllum peltatum

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec.1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada. , Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada.132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4).1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Quebec

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063.94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

Images: Podophyllum peltatum - Google Search

Notes on Poisonous plant parts:

All parts of the plant contain toxic chemicals, although the fruit may cause only slight catharsis. alpha- and beta-peltatin are found in the rhizomes (Rosenstein et al. 1976, Lampe and McCann 1986).

Toxic parts:

  • all parts
  • leaves
  • stems

References:

  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.
  • Rosenstein, G., Rosenstein, H., Freeman, M., Weston, N. 1976. Podophyllum - a dangerous laxative. Pediatrics, 57: 419-421.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

The purgative podophylloresin, the glucoside of podophyllotoxin, and alpha- and beta-peltatin produce toxic reactions in animals. The LD-50 of podophyllotoxin, administered orally to mice, is 90 mg/kg (Rosenstein et al. 1976, Lampe and McCann 1986).

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • alpha- and beta- peltatin
  • podophylloresin

References:

  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.
  • Rosenstein, G., Rosenstein, H., Freeman, M., Weston, N. 1976. Podophyllum - a dangerous laxative. Pediatrics, 57: 419-421.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Cattle

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

A cow in Ontario experienced toxic symptoms after ingesting may-apple. The symptoms included salivation, moaning, excitation, swollen eyes and muzzle, lacrimation, pupil dilation, and congestion of all visible mucous membranes (McIntosh 1928).

References:

  • McIntosh, R. A. 1928. May apple poisoning in a cow. Ont. Vet. Coll. Rep., 29: 18-20.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

In humans most cases of poisoning from May-apple have resulted from the use or handling of the pharmaceutical extracts from the plant. Because of its irritant qualities, may-apple has been used topically to remove papilloma and warts. It has also been used as an abortifacient, as shown experimentally with mice and rabbits. The use of these extracts as a laxative in pregnancy has been discouraged. The extracts have been shown to have an antimititic capacity. In a case of suicide, a man ingested a bottle containing 10-11 g of podophyllum extract. Initially he experienced few symptoms, but after 10 h the patient became confused and comatose; respiration was assisted and the man died after 39 h (Rosenstein et al. 1976, Cassidy et al. 1982).

References:

  • Cassidy, D. E., Drewry, J., Fanning, J. P. 1982. Podophyllum toxicity: a report of a fatal case and a review of the literature. J. Toxicol. Clin. Toxicol., 19: 35-44.
  • Rosenstein, G., Rosenstein, H., Freeman, M., Weston, N. 1976. Podophyllum - a dangerous laxative. Pediatrics, 57: 419-421.

Swine

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Deaths were reported after few symptoms in swine that ingested young shoots of May-apple (Kingsbury 1964).

References:

  • Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.
  • McIntosh, R. A. 1928. May apple poisoning in a cow. Ont. Vet. Coll. Rep., 29: 18-20.

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