MandrakeAuthor: Rosy Khalife

mandrake (1).jpg
Mandrake. Source:

Other common names: European Mandrake, Mandragora, Mandrake Apple, Pome Di Tchin, Satan's Apple, herb of Circe, witches mannikin, wild lemon, sorceror's root, main-de-gloire, hand of glory, mangloire.[1]

Mandrake Root. Source:


Kingdom- Plantae
Subkingdom- Tracheobionta
Division- Magnoliophyta
Class- Magnoliopsida
Subclass- Asteridae
Order- Solanales
Family- Solanaceae
Genus- Mandragora L.
Species- Mandragora officinarum L.[2]

Mandrake flower.

The mandrake is part of the night shade family. It has large leaves that emerge directly from its roots. It also has attractive flowers that are white with a purplish tint. The roots are similar to a carrot and can grow as far as four feet underground.[3]


The nightshade family includes belladonna, henbane, peppers, tomatoes, and deadly nightshade.

Mandrake fruit:

The fruit of the mandrake is not poisonous in small doses. It is orange in color and looks like a tomato. It's smell resembles an apple, hence the nickname Satan's Apple. In Amy Stewart's Wicked Plants, she discusses an incident when a couple ate the fruit and had to be taken to the emergency room. They hallucinated and were rambling until they were given an antidote. This restored their heartbeat and brought them back to consciousness. After hearing this story I think it would be best if the mandrake fruit was avoided all together!

Mandrake plant and fruit illustration.
Mandrake fruit. Source:

Geographic Location:

The mandrake can be found in southern Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa.[4] Some species of it grow in China, Bhutan, India and Nepal.[5] It is usually found growing in waste lands.
Mandrake map distribution.

Medical Uses:

The mandrake doesn’t have much of a role in the medicine today. In ancient times it was often used as a narcotic and aphrodisiac. The root is the most powerful part of the plant. If chewed it can act as a sleep aid. In the days before modern medicine people would chew it prior to undergoing surgery. It is an emetic, which means it will cause nausea, vomit, and diarrhea. The leaves can be used as an ointment. By boiling the leaves in milk it can be used as a poultice (a layer of mashed herbs applied to the skin). This technique was used to cure external ulcers. [6]


Mandrake in Witchcraft:
Mandrake plant as a person.

It is believed that the mandrake has special magical powers that can cure a number of diseases, help with fertility, sadness and love. In ancient times it was thought that the root of the mandrake resembled a little person which was either male or female depending on its shape. The root of the mandrake is the most essential part of it. Witches would chew on the mandrake root or incorporate it in potions and brews.
The shape of the mandrake root gained it the reputation of being the most powerful love herb. Since the belief at that time was that plants with certain shapes healed those matching body parts, you could see why they believed that about the mandrake. It is an extremely toxic plant so they had to be careful in dealing with it. Myth has it that humans couldn’t get the mandrake out of the ground so they would tie a rope to a dog and to the plant, so the dog could run and pull it out.

Mandrake in Harry Potter:

For centuries the mandrake has been spoken and written about. It has appeared in the popular book and move Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The popular Harry Potter series brought back the forgotten practice of witchcraft and made it a phenomena among young and old adults. People became fascinated with the notion of magic.

Scene capture from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Source:
Ron Weasley pulling out a mandrake.

"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 Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling
Professor Sprout teaching the class about the mandrake.
A creative rendering of a mandrake root.

Scene from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Back! To the Sabbath!

  1. ^

    Grieve, M. "Mandrake." A Modern Herb. Web. 22 Apr 2013. <
  2. ^

    "Mandrake." United States Department of Agriculture. Web. 23 Apr 2013. <>.
  3. ^

    Stewart, Amy. Wicked Plants. Chapel Hill: 2009. 105-107. Print.
  4. ^

    Morgenstern, Kat. "Mandrake In Profile." Sacred Earth. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr 2013. <>.
  5. ^ "Distribution." Natural History Museum. Web. 22 Apr 2013. <>.
  6. ^
    "mandrake." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <>
  7. ^

    "Poisonous Plants: Mandrake, Mandragora (Mandragora officinarum)." ThinkQuest : Library. Web. 27 Apr. 2013. <>.
  8. ^
    "Mandrake Root." Moonslight Magic. Web. 23 Apr. 2013. <>.