Mandragora officinarum

 

 

 

Mandragora officinarum - Click to enlarge

Mandragora officinarum

Mandragora officinarum - Click to enlarge

A huge plant with a diameter of one metre

Mandragora officinarum - Click to enlarge

Mandragora officinarum

Mandragora officinarum - Click to enlarge

Mandragora officinarum

Mandragora officinarum - Click to enlarge

Mandragora officinarum

Mandragora officinarum - Click to enlarge

Mandragora officinarum

Mandragora officinarum - Click to enlarge

Mandragora officinarum

Mandragora officinarum - Click to enlarge

Sometimes you find white flowers

White mandragora flowers - Click to enlarge

White mandragora flowers

Mandragora officinarum (also called Mandragora autumnalis) or Mandrake is a Mediterranean perennial forming a large, flat rosette of wrinkled leaves. The violet flowers appear in autumn or spring. It is common in Crete on open rocky ground and is often found on track sides up to 600 m.

The root of the plant (which sometimes has bifurcations which make it vaguely resemble a human body in shape) has powerful hallucinogenic properties which is probably why it is linked to so many folk tales.

According to the legend, when the root is dug up it screams and kills all who hear it. Literature includes complex directions for harvesting a mandrake root in relative safety. For example Josephus (c. 37 AD Jerusalem – c. 100) gives the following directions for pulling it up:

A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this the root can be handled without fear.

You can click on the pictures to enlarge.

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