The American mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum L.) is native to eastern North America and its leaves contain the pharmaceutical compound podophyllotoxin. Podophyllotoxin is used in the manufacture of several types of drugs used in the treatment of cancer, arthritis, and various skin conditions. With leaves being a renewable resource, the plant is a candidate for cultivation by growers of specialty crops. We are investigating strategies of establishing mayapple in field plantings. Rhizome segments were harvested from the wild and immediately transplanted to raised beds in northern Mississippi. There were three planting times, Fall 2000, Spring 2001, or Summer 2001, and three propagule types: (1) two-node rhizome segments with a terminal node and its adjacent one-year-old node, referred to as Nt+N1, (2) one-node segments with a single node, other than Nt, of unknown age, referred to as Nx, or (3) one-node segments with a single terminal node, referred to as Nt. Each spring, shoots emerged from the ground in March, grew during April, and senesced throughout May. Shoot emergence, leaf area, leaf dry mass, and shoot height were recorded each spring. Plant growth and performance can be ranked as follows. EXCELLENT: Spring-planted Nt+N1. GOOD: Fall- and summer-planted Nt+N1; fall-, spring-, and summer-planted Nx; and spring-planted Nt. FAIR: Fall-planted Nt. POOR: Summer-planted Nt. We can now recommend all three planting dates, but in the following order of preference: spring > fall > summer. We can also recommend two of the three propagule types, also in the following order of preference: Nt+N1 > Nx. The Nt propagules performed adequately when planted during fall or spring, but they did not perform well when planted during summer.
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