Himalayan May Apple
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Himalayan May Apple
ative Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Himalayan May Apple, Indian may apple • Bengali: papra • Hindi: बन ककडी Ban kakri • Ladakhi: དེམོཀུསུ Demokusu,་པཔར Papra,་ཨོལམོསེ Olmose • Marathi: paadbal • Sanskrit: लघु पत्र Laghu patra, वनव्रिन्ट्का Vanavrintaka
Botanical name: Podophyllum hexandrum    Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry family)
Synonyms: Sinopodophyllum hexandrum, Podophyllum emodi

Himalayan May Apple is a perennial herb, 15-40 cm tall, native to the Himalayas. It is low to the ground with glossy green, drooping, lobed leaves on its few stiff branches. The ornamental appearance of the plant made it a garden plant in the West. Podophyllum gets its name from the Greek words podos and phyllon, meaning foot shaped leaves. The plant has an erect unbranched stem, bearing two large, lobed leaves at the top, encircling the single large, white or pale pink cup-shaped flower. Flower is 2-4 cm across, with 3 sepals which fall off soon. The flower has six petals and six stamens, which inspired its species name hexandrum, meaning six stamens. Leaves are rounded in outline, 10-25 cm long, deeply cut into 3 ovate, toothed lobes, sometimes further lobed. Fruit is a large scarlet or reddish berry, 2.5-5 cm, with many seeds embedded in pulp. It can be propagated by seed or by dividing the rhizome. It is very tolerant of cold temperatures, as would be expected of a Himalayan plant, but it is not tolerant of dry conditions. It is found at altitudes of 2400-4500 m. Flowering: May-August.
Medicinal uses: Himalayan May Apple has been exploited in several traditional systems of medicine, including Ayurveda, for treatment of a number of ailments such as constipation, cold, bacterial infections, biliary fever, sceptic wounds and insect bites. It has also been used to provide synptomatic relief in some of the allergic and inflammatory conditions.

Identification credit: Nongthombam Ullysess Photographed at Lahaul, Himachal Pradesh.

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