Mandrake is an herbaceous plant that’s a member of the Solanaceae family. There are five species of mandrake: two species are found around the Mediterranean and are the mandrakes of ancient writers; three species are found in China. All have short stems with leaves forming at the base in a rosette pattern. Bell-shaped flowers may be blue, violet, or a greenish white. Yellow to orange plum-sized fruit forms after the flowers. Mandrakes have large white to tan-colored taproots that often divide in two, resembling legs.
Botanical Name: Mandragora
Common/Folk Names: Alraun, Brain Thief, Circeum, Circoea, Djinn’s Eggs, Gallows, Golden Apples of Aphrodite, Hand of Glory, Herb of Circe, Ladykins, Love Apple, Mandragora, Mandragor, Mannikin, Raccoon Berry, Sorcerer’s Root, Wild Lemon, Witch’s Mannikin, and Womandrake.
Life Cycle: perennial
Habitat: arid areas, stony places, deserted fields; native to the Mediterranean and China
Blooms: March and April
Smell: the plant smells unpleasant, fruit has an apple-like scent
Taste: leaves are very bitter
- Mandrake contains alkaloids, making them poisonous.
- American Mandrake is a different plant.
- Symptoms of mandrake poisoning include hallucinations, blurred vision, pupil dilation, dry mouth, difficulty urinating, dizziness, headache, vomiting, blushing, hyperactivity, and rapid heart rate.
- In traditional medicine, extracts have been used as an aphrodisiac, hypnotic, emetic, purgative, sedative, and painkiller.
- In ancient Greece, powdered mandrake was added to wines and love potions.
- Mandrake roots were carve to look more human, then clothed, and kept in secret places for luck. They were passed down for generations.
- The taxonomy gets confusing. Dioscorides, an ancient Greek physician, distinguished between “male” and “female” mandrakes. In 1764, Garsault ran with that idea and published the names Mandragora mas and Mandragora foemina. Furthermore, flowering time was used to distinguish between species. In 1820, Antonio Bertoloni named two species Mandragora vernalis, the spring-flowering mandrake, and Mandragora autumnalis, the autumn-flowering mandrake. Since the late 1990s, three main circumscriptions of Mandragora officinarum have been used and all three are found in current sources.
- A medieval myth states that when mandrake root is pulled from the ground, it emits a shrill cry that drives people insane and kills them.
- Mandrake helps to transform werewolves and shapeshifters.
- The root grows where the bodily fluids of murderers dripped beneath the gallows.
- Mandrake is use in flying potions for witches.
- Demons cannot dwell where mandrake grows.
- Spells and rituals use mandrake for protection, prosperity, fertility, love, baneful magic, and divination.
In the Language of Flowers, it means: rarity
This is a reference for fiction writers and should not be taken as medical or spiritual advice.
A Modern Herbal by Margaret Grieve
flower image bytato grasso, fruits by Carstor, Wikipedia.org
series logo image by openclipart.org, awesome colorization by me!