The Photography of D L Ennis, and more!


Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Mayapple in April

Image: Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) by D L Ennis

Podophyllum peltatum is most commonly known as the mayapple, but in various regions it is also known as Devil's apple, hog apple, Indian apple, umbrella plant, wild lemon, and American mandrake (though it should not be confused with true mandrake, Mandragora officinarum, an unrelated Old World plant whose roots have been used throughout history for medicines and potions.)

The Mayapple is a perennial plant in the barberry family (Berberidaceae) which is found in woodlands in Canada and the Eastern U.S. (Eastern being East of Oklahoma). These plants reach 6-18 inches in height and grow in patches. Each plant has a single stalk topped with one or two broad, deeply divided leaves that vaguely resemble umbrellas. The two-leaved plants normally produce a single, small white flower (usually in May, thus the name) from the fork in the stem. The flower develops into a pulpy, lemon-yellow berry which ripens in late summer and is the only part of the plant that isn't poisonous (however, the berries should only be eaten in moderation, if at all.)

The plant's long, thin rhizome (a horizontal underground stem from which the roots grow) is the most poisonous part, but also the most useful because it contains high concentrations of the compounds podophyllotoxin and alpha and beta peltatin, all of which have anticancer properties. Two closely-related Asian species, P. emodi and P. pleianthum, contain these active ingredients in lesser quantities as well as an alkaloid called berberine which can be used to treat fevers (especially malaria) and as an antibiotic.

The rhizomes have a long history as a medicine among Native North American tribes. They used to gather the rhizomes in the autumn and dry them and grind them to a powder. They would eat or drink a brew of the powder as a laxative or to get rid of intestinal worms. The powder was also used as a poultice to treat warts and tumorous growths on the skin.

Currently, extracts of the plant are used in topical medications for genital warts and some skin cancers. In China and Japan, the rhizomes of P. pleianthum are used to make a compound called Hakkakuren, which is used to treat snakebites and tumors of the genitals.

The purgative action of Mayapple rhizome powder is very strong, and the compounds in it are much too toxic to attempt self-medication with this plant.

The FDA rates the use of this plant as "unsafe."

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Friday, April 20, 2007

VT-We’re Thinking of You!

We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness ... We are the Hokies ...
-- Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor, poet, activist

You are in our hearts and minds!!!

In Memoriam

Friday, April 13, 2007

Spring 2007 in the Blue Ridge

The return of spring to the Blue Ridge is a joyous occasion! I hope that these images will show you why I feel this way and perhaps inspire you to get out and enjoy spring 2007 when it makes its appearance in your area…

All of the images were taken on the Blue Ridge Parkway this year at the lower elevations near the James River. There is still plenty of spring colors to come along the 500 miles of the parkway so if you can make the trip I’m sure you will enjoy the beauty of the mountains awakening!

Click any image to see a larger version.

Spring Delight

Spring DelightLast week, spring just exploded on the lower elevations of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. This image was taken on Friday 3/30/2007.


OverlookA spring view from the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia…

Meadow by the Brook

Meadow by the BrookEarly spring in a Blue Ridge Mountain meadow… This was taken, in to the sun, one windy evening last week when we were having spring like temps; this morning it was in the low 20’s f. Please view large if you have the time. Happy Easter my friends!

Redbud Branch on a Dapple Sky

Redbud Branch on a Dapple SkyThe coming of spring has lifted my spirits and given me hope!


SpringThe look of spring as the grass greens and the redbuds bloom, along side a creek in this bottom, on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

Golden Ragwort (Senecio aureus)

Golden Ragwort (Senecio aureus)This is a wildflower that grows in the Blue Ridge Mountains in moist woods and on stream banks. I used a little HDR and Orton techniques…

By the Stream

Thank You!!!On the Blue Ridge Parkway near US 501…

To see more of my images of the Blue Ridge through the seasons click here.

Prints are available for purchase…for more info click here.

All images are copyright © 2007 D L Ennis