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Useful Temperate Plants

Mandragora officinarum

L.

Solanaceae

+ Synonyms

Atropa acaulis Stokes

Atropa humilis Salisb.

Atropa mandragora L.

Mandragora acaulis Gaertn.

Mandragora vernalis Bertol.

Mandragora autumnalis Bertol.

Mandragora foemina Thell.

Mandragora haussknechtii Heldr.

Mandragora microcarpa Bertol.

Mandragora officinalis Mill.

Common Name: Mandrake

No Image.

General Information

Mandragora officinarum is a virtually stemless, herbaceous perennial plant forming a rosette of leaves from a deep, often branched taproot. The leaves are very variable in size but are generally up to 45cm long[
1316
Title
A revision of the genus Mandragora (Solanaceae)
Publication
Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Bot.) 28(1): 17-40
Author
Ungricht S.; Knapp S; Press J.R.
Publisher
 
Year
1998
ISBN
0968-0446
Description
A detailed study of the genus, including information on the historical and modern medicinal uses
].
Mandrake has a very long history of medicinal use, based mainly on the range of alkaloids contained in its roots which can have hallucinogent and narcotic effects. It is little used in modern herbalism, though has been used as a source of compounds for the pharmaceutical industry[
1316
Title
A revision of the genus Mandragora (Solanaceae)
Publication
Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Bot.) 28(1): 17-40
Author
Ungricht S.; Knapp S; Press J.R.
Publisher
 
Year
1998
ISBN
0968-0446
Description
A detailed study of the genus, including information on the historical and modern medicinal uses
]. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental or medicinal herb in gardens.

Known Hazards

All parts of the plant, but especially the roots, contain a range of alkaloids and are poisonous[
19
Title
Poisonous Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Stary. F.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1983
ISBN
0-600-35666-3
Description
Not very comprehensive, but easy reading.
,
21
Title
The Herb Book.
Publication
 
Author
Lust. J.
Publisher
Bantam books
Year
1983
ISBN
0-553-23827-2
Description
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
]. Only slightly so according to one report[
89
Title
Flowers of the Mediterranean.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O. and Huxley. A.
Publisher
Hogarth Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7012-0784-1
Description
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
], which is probably referring to the aerial parts since the roots can be highly toxic[
1316
Title
A revision of the genus Mandragora (Solanaceae)
Publication
Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Bot.) 28(1): 17-40
Author
Ungricht S.; Knapp S; Press J.R.
Publisher
 
Year
1998
ISBN
0968-0446
Description
A detailed study of the genus, including information on the historical and modern medicinal uses
].

Botanical References

89
Title
Flowers of the Mediterranean.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O. and Huxley. A.
Publisher
Hogarth Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7012-0784-1
Description
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
1316
Title
A revision of the genus Mandragora (Solanaceae)
Publication
Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Bot.) 28(1): 17-40
Author
Ungricht S.; Knapp S; Press J.R.
Publisher
 
Year
1998
ISBN
0968-0446
Description
A detailed study of the genus, including information on the historical and modern medicinal uses

Range

Mediterranean region - Portugal, Spain, Italy, the Balkans, Greece; Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan

Habitat

Open woodland, deserted fields and stony places[
21
Title
The Herb Book.
Publication
 
Author
Lust. J.
Publisher
Bantam books
Year
1983
ISBN
0-553-23827-2
Description
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
,
89
Title
Flowers of the Mediterranean.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O. and Huxley. A.
Publisher
Hogarth Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7012-0784-1
Description
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
]. Open woodland, olive groves, fallow land, waysides, railway embankments, ruins, crevices; at elevations up to 1,200 metres[
1316
Title
A revision of the genus Mandragora (Solanaceae)
Publication
Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Bot.) 28(1): 17-40
Author
Ungricht S.; Knapp S; Press J.R.
Publisher
 
Year
1998
ISBN
0968-0446
Description
A detailed study of the genus, including information on the historical and modern medicinal uses
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *
Medicinal Rating *  *
HabitPerennial
Height0.10 m
PollinatorsInsects
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Mandragora officinarum is native to the Mediterranean region, where it experiences hot dry summers (when it dies back to the roots and becomes dormant) and moist, mild winters (when it actively grows). Plants can survive temperatures falling to about -15°c for short periods, so long as the plant is grown in well-drained soils[
187
Title
Perennials. Volumes 1 and 2.
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Rix. M.
Publisher
Pan Books
Year
1991
ISBN
0-330-30936-9
Description
Photographs of over 3,000 species and cultivars of ornamental plants together with brief cultivation notes, details of habitat etc.
]. The plant comes into growth in mid to late winter when grown in temperate areas, flowering in early spring and dying down before summer begins[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Prefers a deep humus-rich light soil and a sheltered position in full sun[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. It also tolerates some shade[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Prefers a circumneutral soil[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
] and dislikes chalk or gravel[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
]. Plants are liable to rot in wet or ill-draining soils[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].
The roots are somewhat carrot-shaped and can be up to 1.2 metres long[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
]. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and should be put out into their permanent positions as soon as possible[
188
Title
The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Publication
 
Author
Brickell. C.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-86318-386-7
Description
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
].
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
Title
Herbs
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Foy. N.
Publisher
Pan Books Ltd. London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-330-30725-8
Description
Deals with all types of herbs including medicinal, culinary, scented and dye plants. Excellent photographs with quite good information on each plant.
].
There is a superstition that if a person pulls up this root they will be condemned to hell[
244
Title
Herbs
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Foy. N.
Publisher
Pan Books Ltd. London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-330-30725-8
Description
Deals with all types of herbs including medicinal, culinary, scented and dye plants. Excellent photographs with quite good information on each plant.
]. 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.

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked[
1316
Title
A revision of the genus Mandragora (Solanaceae)
Publication
Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Bot.) 28(1): 17-40
Author
Ungricht S.; Knapp S; Press J.R.
Publisher
 
Year
1998
ISBN
0968-0446
Description
A detailed study of the genus, including information on the historical and modern medicinal uses
]. A delicacy[
89
Title
Flowers of the Mediterranean.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O. and Huxley. A.
Publisher
Hogarth Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7012-0784-1
Description
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
]. Juicy[
1316
Title
A revision of the genus Mandragora (Solanaceae)
Publication
Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Bot.) 28(1): 17-40
Author
Ungricht S.; Knapp S; Press J.R.
Publisher
 
Year
1998
ISBN
0968-0446
Description
A detailed study of the genus, including information on the historical and modern medicinal uses
]. The glossy yellow to orange, globose to ellipsoid fruit can be 5 - 40mm in diameter[
1316
Title
A revision of the genus Mandragora (Solanaceae)
Publication
Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Bot.) 28(1): 17-40
Author
Ungricht S.; Knapp S; Press J.R.
Publisher
 
Year
1998
ISBN
0968-0446
Description
A detailed study of the genus, including information on the historical and modern medicinal uses
]. The fruit is about the size of a small apple, with a strong apple-like scent[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].
Some caution is advised in the use of this fruit, it is quite possibly poisonous. See notes above on toxicity[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

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
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
], though it contains hyoscine which is the standard pre-operative medication given to soothe patients and reduce bronchial secretions[
244
Title
Herbs
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Foy. N.
Publisher
Pan Books Ltd. London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-330-30725-8
Description
Deals with all types of herbs including medicinal, culinary, scented and dye plants. Excellent photographs with quite good information on each plant.
]. It is also used to treat travel sickness[
244
Title
Herbs
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Foy. N.
Publisher
Pan Books Ltd. London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-330-30725-8
Description
Deals with all types of herbs including medicinal, culinary, scented and dye plants. Excellent photographs with quite good information on each plant.
].
The fresh or dried root contains highly poisonous alkaloids and is cathartic, strongly emetic, hallucinogenic and narcotic[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
21
Title
The Herb Book.
Publication
 
Author
Lust. J.
Publisher
Bantam books
Year
1983
ISBN
0-553-23827-2
Description
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
,
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
192
Title
Narcotic Plants
Publication
 
Author
Emboden. W.
Publisher
Studio Vista
Year
1979
ISBN
0-289-70864-8
Description
A lot of details about the history, chemistry and use of narcotic plants, including hallucinogens, stimulants, inebriants and hypnotics.
,
244
Title
Herbs
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Foy. N.
Publisher
Pan Books Ltd. London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-330-30725-8
Description
Deals with all types of herbs including medicinal, culinary, scented and dye plants. Excellent photographs with quite good information on each plant.
,
1316
Title
A revision of the genus Mandragora (Solanaceae)
Publication
Bull. Nat. Hist. Mus. Lond. (Bot.) 28(1): 17-40
Author
Ungricht S.; Knapp S; Press J.R.
Publisher
 
Year
1998
ISBN
0968-0446
Description
A detailed study of the genus, including information on the historical and modern medicinal uses
]. In sufficient quantities it induces a state of oblivion and was used as an anaesthetic for operations in early surgery[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. It was much used in the past for its anodyne and soporific properties[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
]. In the past, juice from the finely grated root was applied externally to relieve rheumatic pains, ulcers and scrofulous tumours[
244
Title
Herbs
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Foy. N.
Publisher
Pan Books Ltd. London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-330-30725-8
Description
Deals with all types of herbs including medicinal, culinary, scented and dye plants. Excellent photographs with quite good information on each plant.
]. It was also used internally to treat melancholy, convulsions and mania[
244
Title
Herbs
Publication
 
Author
Phillips. R. & Foy. N.
Publisher
Pan Books Ltd. London.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-330-30725-8
Description
Deals with all types of herbs including medicinal, culinary, scented and dye plants. Excellent photographs with quite good information on each plant.
]. When taken internally in large doses, however, it is said to excite delirium and madness[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].
The root should be used with caution, and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[
21
Title
The Herb Book.
Publication
 
Author
Lust. J.
Publisher
Bantam books
Year
1983
ISBN
0-553-23827-2
Description
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
,
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. See the notes above on toxicity.

The leaves are harmless and cooling. They have been used for making ointments and other external applications to ulcers etc[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - best sown in a cold frame in the autumn[
188
Title
The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Publication
 
Author
Brickell. C.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd.
Year
1990
ISBN
0-86318-386-7
Description
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
]. 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
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Division. This can be rather difficult since the plants resent root disturbance.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2018-08-20. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Mandragora+officinarum>

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