One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A genus of the family Berberidaceae, comprising herbaceous plants with thick, creeping rhizomes, large, peltate, palmately lobed leaves, and white flowers; (also podophyllum) a plant of this genus, especially the mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum, of eastern North America, or P. hexandrum of the Himalayas.
2The dried rhizome of the mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum or P. hexandrum.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in New & Complete Dictionary Arts & Science. From scientific Latin Podophyllum (Linnaeus Systema Naturae), apparently shortened from Anapodophyllum, lit. ‘duck's-foot leaved’, so called on account of the shape of the leaf from ana- + scientific Latin podo- + ancient Greek ϕύλλον leaf.
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