This handsome plant, Podophyllum peltatum, known also as mandrake, or may apple, is one of the most attractive features of the early spring in North America, resisting with remarkable efficiency the aggressive inroads of the agriculturist. It was used by the North American Indians, the Cherokees employing the fresh juice of the root for deafness, and the Wyandottes made a drastic cathartic, from which the drug's harsher qualities were removed by roasting. The once celebrated "Indian doctors," Peter Smith (605) and others, employed the root as an escharotic, in which direction it came into early veterinary practice. The early American physicians and writers on medicine praised its qualities as a purgative, its active cathartic nature having been known, as has been said, from the days of the Indians. The vegetable substitute for the once popular antimonial plaster used so freely by "Regular" physicians was the Compound Tar Plaster of the Eclectics. This contained Podophyllum, phytolacca, and sanguinaria.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.