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  1. Dec 2021
    1. Mandrake Atropa mandragora Legend and superstition surround the mandrake. The root of the mandrake has a peculiar shape, sometimes resembling human legs or arms, or even a complete body. The strange shape of the mandrake’s root contributed to its reputation as a magical, and dangerous, plant. Many people believed that the mandrake root screamed as it was pulled from the ground. To dig up the mandrake and hear its cries meant certain death, so ancient herbalists instructed people to tie a dog to the mandrake and force the animal to pull it up, thereby killing the dog but saving themselves. Having safely planted and replanted many mandrakes, Gerard condemned the fantastic tales. He recommended a decoction of the leaves against jaundice and internal bleeding. Gerard also claimed that the fruit, “being drunk in the weight of one dram, with three ounces of white wine for forty daies together, helpeth the spleen.”

      Description of the mandrake from Herball, Generall Historie of Plants by John Gerard, 1597