DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Flowers 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. Podophyllotoxin is the starting material for the production of the anticancer drugs etoposide and teniposide. Dried P. hexandrum roots contain up to 4% of podophyllotoxin, making this species favoured as a commercial source of the product. The picture shows a plant growing in Norfolk UK in May. P. hexandrum is an unusual and attractive rhizomatous hardy perennial suitable for shady situations.
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