American mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is being investigated as a domestic, renewable, and alternative source of podophyllotoxin, a precursor compound used in the manufacture of several drugs. Indian mayapple (P. emodi) is the current source of the compound. The objective of this study was to examine growth of transplanted rhizome segments of American mayapple at four transplant times during the year. Two-node rhizome segments were carefully dug with roots intact from naturally occurring wild populations near Holly Springs, Miss. Segments were dug in Oct. 2002, Dec. 2002, Feb. 2003, or June 2003. Within 1 day of each harvest, segments were transplanted into 1-gal pots containing a mixture of sandy soil and a finely ground pine bark mulch. Pots were then set in a raised bed, such that the soil surface within the pots was even with that of the plant bed. Pots and plant bed then received a 3-inch layer of pine bark mulch. Rhizome segments were harvested from pots four times during the year following the date of transplant. Rhizome and roots were separated according to new or old growth and then dried. Rhizome segments transplanted during October and December increased about 36% in dry mass during the 1-year period after transplant. This was significantly greater than an increase of 12% for segments transplanted during June. Segments transplanted during February performed intermediately, increasing by 22%. Our results show that rhizome segments of American mayapple performed better when transplanted during fall and winter compared to those transplanted during summer. Segments transplanted during spring performed intermediately.
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