ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Mandrake - The Plant that Screams

Updated on October 7, 2016
Mandragora autumnalis (Mandragora officinarum) דודא רפואי
Mandragora autumnalis (Mandragora officinarum) דודא רפואי | Source
The Screaming Plant
The Screaming Plant | Source

The Screaming Plant

Long ago, many people believed that a plant called the mandrake was magical. Witches and wizards used to hunt for mandrake roots to use in magic spells.

But getting a mandrake root wasn't easy. Everyone believed that if a mandrake was pulled out of the ground it would scream. And anyone who heard a mandrake scream would die! So when a witch went mandrake picking, she did her best to protect herself.

First, she waited for a night when there was no moon. Then, with a black dog, a horn, a bone, and a lump of wax she went looking for mandrakes. When she found a mandrake, she tied a cord around it stem. She tied the other end of the cord around the dog's neck.

Then the witch stuffed her ears with some of the wax and waited. At exactly midnight she held out the bone to the dog. The dog ran to get the bone - and pulled the mandrake out of the ground. But the witch was safe. She couldn't hear the mandrake scream because her ears were stuffed up and she was blowing the horn as loudly as she could.

Reference: Childcraft Annual 1972, The Green Kingdom

Mandrake Plant - Facts

Latin Name: Mandragora officianarum (Solanaceae)

Other Names: Mandragora, Satan's Apple, Love Apple, Circe's Plant, Dudaim, Ladykins, Mannikin, Racoon, Berry, Bryony roots, Alraun, Devil's Testicles

Family: Nightshade

Native Home: Herbaceous perennials native to the Mediterranean and to Himalayan areas.

Edible? No! The root, which is rather toxic, has anodyne and soporific properties. In larger amounts it causes delirium and madness.

What's In a Name? Recorded from Middle English, the name comes from medieval Latin mandragora, associated with man (because of the shape of its root) + drake in the Old English sense ‘dragon’. The Arab name mandragora means ‘hurtful to cattle’. This is where the name 'Satan's Apple' comes from. The little yellow fruit resemble apples and the cows will eat them.

Mandragora officinarum, Common Mandrake, fruits
Mandragora officinarum, Common Mandrake, fruits | Source

Mandrake - Traditional Medicine

Mandrake was the most popular anesthetic during the Middle Ages and used as a narcotic in the Elizabethan Age. During operations in Pliny's day, a piece of the root was given to the patient to chew before undergoing operations. The Ancients, including Romans, Greeks and Celts considered it a soporific and an anadyne.

Mandrake - In the Bible

I found a couple of reference to Mandrake in the Bible, so far this is my favorite one.

Song of Solomon

Chapter 7

  1. How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! The joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman.

  2. Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor: thy belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies.

  3. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.

  4. Thy neck is as a tower of ivory: thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus.

  5. Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries.

  6. How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!

  7. This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.

  8. I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof; now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples;

  9. And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.

  10. I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me.

  11. Come, my beloved, let us go into the field; let us lodge in the villages.

  12. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth; there will I give thee my loves.

  13. The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.

As I finish writing I wonder if the smell that the mandrakes give off are the flowers in bloom.

Mandrake Root : Harry Potter Potion #10

An 18th-century German book called mandrake the strongest "troll herb."

Magic and Medicine of Plants
Magic and Medicine of Plants | Source

Mandrake Plant & Witches

Witches seem to be either good or evil, and the reputation of a "good witch" often came from the ability to come up with herbal brews to satisfy people's wants and needs.

A typical parish priest in those times did not look favorably on this competition. Witches were accused of making deals with the devil, black magic and sorcery!

And yet... none of that mattered, they provided a service that the priest could not.

For a price a man could get a potion guaranteed to soften his lady's heart. Had the family cow dried up? Was the baby ailing for no known reason? No doubt they were bewitched, and if a priests prayers could not help, then perhaps the witch's incantations could.

When discovery could mean death, witches conducted their business in the strictest secrecy. Much of what little of the witches' lore survives, is found in the transcripts of their trials. These transcripts contain testimony extracted under torture, together with descriptions from the witch hunters' manuals, fanciful accounts that seem to owe more to the prosecutors lurid imaginations than to fact.

The witches continued to use the plant lore that the Christian church deemed as "heathen" mysteries. In patches hidden deep in the woods, witches grew forbidden plants. Many of the witches' herbs were poisonous, plants now recognized as containing potent drugs and toxins. Most also had ancient reputations. The familiar henbane and mandrake were witches' standbys. By special treatment, however, witches tried to endow these old plant servants with new powers..

Thus, the witches preferred to harvest mandrakes from beneath a gallows tree. The hanged man had to have been a "pure youth." That meant a congenital criminal who had been wicked from conception and devoted his whole life to crimes. The newly harvested root had to have special treatment. It had to be bathed in wine, clothed in silk and velvet, and fed every week, preferably with a sacramental wafer stolen during communion.

Like other nightshades, the mandrake derives it reputation for magical power partly from its toxicity. This potent herb can kill the unwary, although is has also served as an important source of therapeutic medicines.

Source: Adaptions from Reader's Digest, Magic and Medicine of Plants


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)