DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
An emerging shoot of Dysosma (formerly Podophyllum) veitchii in a UK garden in April. The picture shows two tightly furled leaves (dark reddish-brown) with the tip of a flower bud between (white tip and pink). The plant is about 5cm tall. Members of the genera Dysosma and Podophyllum are rhizomatous perennials of long-standing medical importance in their native China and N. India. They are the source of podophyllotoxin, a cytotoxic substance extracted from the rhizomes and used in the USA as a topical treatment to remove Human Papilloma Virus induced genital warts, under the name Podocon-25. The toxin arrests cell division at metaphase, and is of interest as an anti-cancer drug. Harvesting of rhizomes endangers the survival of wild populations. Current research is attempting to use endophytic fungi from within the tissues of the plant as an alternative source of podophyllotoxin.
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