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Toxic parts

All parts of the plant are poisonous[1][2]. Only slightly so according to one report[3].

Edible uses


Fruit - raw or cooked. A delicacy[3]. The fruit is about the size of a small apple, with a strong apple-like scent[4]. Caution is advised in the use of this fruit, it is quite possibly poisonous[K].


Material uses

There are no material uses listed for Mandragora officinarum.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

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[5], though it contains hyoscine which is the standard pre-operative medication given to soothe patients and reduce bronchial secretions[6]. It is also used to treat travel sickness[6].

The fresh or dried root contains highly poisonous alkaloids and is cathartic, strongly emetic, hallucinogenic and narcotic[4][2][7][8][6]. In sufficient quantities it induces a state of oblivion and was used as an anaesthetic for operations in early surgery[5]. It was much used in the past for its anodyne and soporific properties[4]. In the past, juice from the finely grated root was applied externally to relieve rheumatic pains, ulcers and scrofulous tumours[6]. It was also used internally to treat melancholy, convulsions and mania[6]. When taken internally in large doses, however, it is said to excite delirium and madness[4]. The root should be used with caution, and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[2][5]. See the notes above on toxicity.

The leaves are harmless and cooling. They have been used for ointments and other external applications to ulcers etc[4].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown in a cold frame in the autumn[9]. 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[10].

Division. This can be rather difficult since the plants resent root disturbance.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Mandragora officinarum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a deep humus-rich light soil and a sheltered position in full sun[5]. It also tolerates some shade[10]. Prefers a circumneutral soil[10] and dislikes chalk or gravel[4]. Plants are liable to rot in wet or ill-draining soils[4].

Plants are hardy to about -15°c[11]. The roots are somewhat carrot-shaped and can be up to 1.2 metres long[4]. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and should be put out into their permanent positions as soon as possible[9].

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[6]. There is a superstition that if a person pulls up this root they will be condemned to hell[6]. 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.


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Mandragora officinarum. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Mandragora officinarum.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Mandragora officinarum
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
  • Fruit (Unknown use)
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
  • Unknown part (Cathartic)
  • Unknown part (Emetic)
  • Unknown part (Hallucinogenic)
  • Unknown part (Narcotic)
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Stary. F. Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-35666-3 (1983-00-00)
    2. ? Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    3. ? Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean. Hogarth Press ISBN 0-7012-0784-1 (1987-00-00)
    4. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    5. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    6. ? Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Emboden. W. Narcotic Plants Studio Vista ISBN 0-289-70864-8 (1979-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
    10. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    11. ? Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2. Pan Books ISBN 0-330-30936-9 (1991-00-00)