Friday, April 15, 2016

The 2016 A-Z CHALLENGE brought to you by The Letter "M"

Hello! And welcome to the 2016 A-Z CHALLENGE!!

* confetti *

This year, I’m blogging my way through a botanical alphabet

I hope you enjoy your time here and by all means, 
come back tomorrow and see what plant I’m highlighting next! Cheers!!


mandragora officinarum

photo found on PINTEREST

"Mandrake, or mandragora, is a powerful restorative," said Hermione, sounding as usual as though she had swallowed the textbook. "It is used to return people who have been transfigured or cursed to their original state." ~ Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

(Because whenever I hear the word "mandrake" I think of that scene from the book and the movie :))

Mandrake comes from two Greek words that imply its hurtful nature. In the Middle East it is known as "Satan's Apple". The root looks more like a parsnip than an apple and if you squint a bit, it can resemble a small, squashed, wrinkly human.

(And now all I can think of is the scene from "Pan's Labyrinth":

photo found HERE

You're welcome.)

The harmless leaves are used in ointments. The root, however, is a very powerful purgative. Ancient cultures used it in cases of chronic pain, melancholy, and convulsions. It did give the patient relief from the pain and sleep but only after they went through a spell of delirium and madness. I guess to some, passing out from exhaustion due to psychosis may be preferable to chronic pain. I'll keep taking my turmeric for Fibromyalgia, thank YOU!

Anglo-Saxon herbals state that Mandrake had powers against demonic possession. It was believed to grow under the gallows where murderers were hanged. Mandrake is perhaps most famous for it's bizarre belief to let out a loud shriek  when dug out of the ground, killing the digger instantly. According to folklore, to harvest Mandrake, one could tie a dog's leash to the leaves of the plant and leave, letting the dog eventually leave the area, pulling the Mandrake out of the ground as it went.

Folklore does not tell us how the root was then claimed by the digger. Perhaps the Mandrake gets tired of screaming after a while and, if one is careful, one may pick it up and take it home without suffering a horrible death. Folklore also seems less that sympathetic towards the poor dog.


All research references can be found in my Library of Botanical Miscellany

These posts are in NO WAY medical suggestions. They are intended for informational purposes only.
If you are interested in pursuing natural, herbal remedies, get thee to a reputable herb shop (preferably one that is locally and independently owned and operated) and get educated!

Disclaimer II
It’s ridiculous that anyone writing about herbal and traditional remedies should have to put a disclaimer at the end of anything. 
Use your brain and think for yourself! Just as you shouldn't take a pharmaceutical at face value, 
do your herbal research and learn about the amazing plants around us.


  1. Pan's Labyrinth came to my mind as well.

  2. I am taking notes. Worthy to remember.

  3. How delightful you've chosen mandrake for your M entry - I've always been fascinated by this one. Both all the strange and seemingly dark folklore, but of course by the shape as well. How fun would it be to find one actually in the shape of a man?! Anne Choi is an artist who creates fine art silver beads and she's done a number of them featuring mandrakes over the years. I think this may be as close getting a mandrake as I'll likely come.


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