Podophyllum pleianthum
Common Name: dysosma 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Berberidaceae
Native Range: Central and southeastern China, Taiwan
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Maroon red
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Easily grown in moist, acidic, organically rich, leafy, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. With consistent and even moisture, the leaves of this mayapple usually remain attractive in the garden until first fall frost (unlike P. peltatum of eastern North American which goes dormant in summer). Avoid dry soils. Plants will spread by rhizomes over time. Plants may self-seed in the garden.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Podophyllum pleianthum, commonly called Chinese mayapple, is native to central and southeastern China. This is a shade loving, clump-forming perennial that typically grows to 18-24" tall. Each plant bears a single stem crowned with one or two, large, very glossy, shallowly-lobed (6-10 lobes each), umbrella-shaped leaves (to 12-16" wide). From the crotch (leaf axil) on two leaved plants, a pendulous cluster (5-9 flowers each) of large, nodding, bell-shaped, malodorous, maroon-red flowers blooms in spring (May). Flowers are quite showy, but unfortunately are usually hidden beneath the large leaves. Flowers give way to berry-shaped fruits that mature to yellow or red. Synonymous with and at one time know as Dysosma pleiantha.

Genus name comes from the Greek words pous or podos meaning a foot and phyllon meaning a leaf with reference to the shape of the leaf in the American species P. peltatum.


No serious insect or disease problems. Protect from spring frosts. Susceptible to root rot in poorly drained soils.


Shady areas of borders, rock gardens, cottage gardens and woodland areas. Elevated plantings, such as along a bank, permit easier viewing of the flowers and fruits.