DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Opening flower bud of Podophyllum hexandrum, a native of the Himalayas in N India to China, family Podophyllaceae. Podophyllum species are the source of podophyllotoxin, a cytotoxic substance extracted from the rhizomes ( roots ) which arrests cell division at metaphase. The extract is used as a topical treatment to remove Human Papilloma Virus induced genital warts, under the name Podocon-25 in the USA. The extract has teratogenic activity and its use by pregnant women is not recommended. The picture shows a plant growing in Norfolk UK in May. P. hexandrum is an unusual and attractive rhizomatous perennial suitable for shady situations.
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