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Mandragora officinarum - L.
                 
Common Name Mandrake
Family Solanaceae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards All parts of the plant are poisonous[19, 21]. Only slightly so according to one report[89]. Not recommended as a herbal medicine [301]. Toxicity signs include: skin reddening, dry mouth, tachycardia, arrhythmias, pupil dilation [301].
Habitats Open woodland, deserted fields and stony places[21, 89].
Range South-eastern Europe.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary

Mandragora officinarum Mandrake


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Esculapio
Mandragora officinarum Mandrake
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Llez
   
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Mandragora officinarum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.3 m (1ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 7-Mar It is in flower from Mar to April, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Synonyms
Atropa acaulis Stokes. Atropa mandragora L.

Habitats
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses:

Fruit - raw or cooked. A delicacy[89]. The fruit is about the size of a small apple, with a strong apple-like scent[4]. Caution is advised in the use of this fruit, it is quite possibly poisonous[K].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Cathartic;  Emetic;  Hallucinogenic;  Narcotic.

Mandrake has a long history of medicinal use, though superstition has played a large part in the uses it has been applied to. It is rarely prescribed in modern herbalism[238], though it contains hyoscine which is the standard pre-operative medication given to soothe patients and reduce bronchial secretions[244]. It is also used to treat travel sickness[244]. The fresh or dried root contains highly poisonous alkaloids and is cathartic, strongly emetic, hallucinogenic and narcotic[4, 21, 46, 192, 244]. In sufficient quantities it induces a state of oblivion and was used as an anaesthetic for operations in early surgery[238]. It was much used in the past for its anodyne and soporific properties[4]. In the past, juice from the finely grated root was applied externally to relieve rheumatic pains, ulcers and scrofulous tumours[244]. It was also used internally to treat melancholy, convulsions and mania[244]. When taken internally in large doses, however, it is said to excite delirium and madness[4]. The root should be used with caution, and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[21, 238]. See the notes above on toxicity. The leaves are harmless and cooling. They have been used for ointments and other external applications to ulcers etc[4].
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details
Prefers a deep humus-rich light soil and a sheltered position in full sun[238]. It also tolerates some shade[200]. Prefers a circumneutral soil[200] and dislikes chalk or gravel[4]. Plants are liable to rot in wet or ill-draining soils[4]. Plants are hardy to about -15°c[187]. The roots are somewhat carrot-shaped and can be up to 1.2 metres long[4]. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and should be put out into their permanent positions as soon as possible[188]. The root often divides into two and is vaguely suggestive of the human body. In the past it was frequently made into amulets which were believed to bring good fortune, cure sterility etc[244]. There is a superstition that if a person pulls up this root they will be condemned to hell[244]. Therefore in the past people have tied the roots to the bodies of animals and then used these animals in order to pull the roots out of the soil.
Propagation
Seed - best sown in a cold frame in the autumn[188]. The seed can also be sown in spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Root cuttings in winter[200]. Division. This can be rather difficult since the plants resent root disturbance.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
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Expert comment
 
Author
L.
Botanical References
89200
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
 
Elizabeth H.
Mon Jan 24 04:00:01 2005
Vespid ( etopsid ) is a chemotherapy drug made from the alkaloids of the mandrake plant.
Elizabeth H.
Chris Poirot Sat Oct 16 13:07:58 2004
In several herbal exibitions and botanical gardens a distinction seems to be made between so called "male" and "female" plants.

Since the plant is apparently hermaphroditic an even self-fertile, what can be the reason (if any) for this distinction?

Ar there varieties or even related species of Mandragra (officinarum) colloquially called "male or "female" Or is all this just another mystification, i.e. not based on any sound taxonomic grounds?

Elizabeth H.
Corwin Fri Jan 26 2007
In regards to the "male" versus "female" distinction this is in refers to the shape that the roots grow in. The "female" being a forked root with two branches and the single being the male. This is associated with it's ancient proported qualities as an "Aphrodisiac". The female for was carved, in the middle ages, into human forms called manikins and were worn to give good luck. Perhaps the earliest ref to this herb is in Genesis 30:14-17.
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Subject : Mandragora officinarum  

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