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Mandrake

berries, leaves and root

MANDRAKE, Mandragora, a genus of plants of the natural order solanacece, nearly allied to belladonna (q.v.). Two species are described by some botanists, the AUTUMNAL MANDRAKE (M. antamnalis), which flowers in autumn, and has lanceolate leaves and ovate berries; and the VERNAL MANDRAKE (H. vernalis), which flowers in spring. and has oblong ovate leaves and globose berries. Both are natives of the south of Europe and of the east, and are united by many into one species (M. officinarum). The roet is large and carrot-like, and from it the leaves spring with no apparent stem, and among them the stalked whitish-flowers. The calyx an'd corolla are 5-cleft, there are 5 statnens, and the fruit is a one-celled berry. about the size of a sparrow's egg. The whole plant bas a very fetid narcotic smell; but the fresh berries, when cut or bruised, have a pleasant odor like that of wine or apples, and two or three may be eaten without inconvenience. All parts of the plant, however, have poisonous properties like thcrse of belladonna, but more narcotic, for which reason a dose of the root was formerly somethnes given to patients about to endure surgical operations. The ancients were well acquainted with

the narcotic and stupefying properties of mandrake, and it was a common saying, of a sleepy or indolent man, that he had eaten mandrake. The root often divides into two, and presents a rude resemblance to the human figure; and human figures were formerly. often cut out of it, to which many magical virtues were ascribed. Sometimes the roots of the bryony were employed instead of those of the mandrake, and sold under the name of mandrake root. From the most ancient thnes, aphrodisiac virtues have been ascribed to the mandrake, which was theiefore supposed to cure barrenness. See Gen. xxx. 14-16. The same reputation has been attached in America to the berries of the nearly allied genera, himeranaus and jabaresa. Many fables connected with the man drake are recorded by ancient and mediteval writers.