Shoots of Podophyllum versipelle

Shoots of Podophyllum versipelle

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Shoots of Podophyllum versipelle, native to S China and Vietnam. The picture shows shoots emerging from soil in a UK garden (May). Below is the papery covering that protected the buds during winter (brown). Each shoot has two tightly furled leaves, between which are visible the flower buds (rust-red). The buds are approximately 1cm long. The leaves row to become up to 15cm across with the flowers held beneath them.Podophyllum species are the source of podophyllotoxin, a cytotoxin extracted from the rhizomes (roots) which arrests cell division at metaphase. The extract is used as a topical treatment for Human Papilloma Virus induced genital warts, under the name Podocon-25 in the USA. Podophyllotoxin is also the starting material for the production of the anticancer drugs etoposide and teniposide. P. versipelle is an unusual rhizomatous hardy perennial suitable for shady situations.

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Keywords: anticancer drug, cell division, etoposide, genital warts, human papilloma virus, medicinal plant, podocon-25, podophyllotoxin, podophyllum versipelle, rhizome, teniposide

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