MANDRAGORA OFFICINARUM

(In Greek it is called “ Μανδραγόρας/Μανδραγούδι)

Mandragora_autumnaYou will see it in fields and stony places and it flowers in Spring and Autumn.
It belongs to the family of “SOLANACEAE” (Nightshade family)

A plant favoured in myth and magic because its shape often resembles a human figure.
There are “male” and “female” mandrakes and Theophrastus tells us :
“One should draw three circles round a mandrake with a sword and then cut it with your face towards the West.
When you cut the second piece you must say as many things as possible about the mysteries of love”.

Later it is believed that when dug up mandrakes uttered a shriek which spelt death so it was considered necessary to loosen the root and tie a dog to carry out the final extraction. Presumably “the dog” would die.

Apart from sorcery in the Middle Ages it was used as a painkiller during operations.

“The leaf heals wounds and the roots for gout, sleeplessness and love potions”.

The fruit is edible and rather interesting! (I have tried it!!)

By Aleko Damaskinos

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