The mandrake, or mandragora, is commonly used in magic rituals even today, due to its hallucinogenic properties. Since ancient times this plant has been important in medicine, as it is an excellent pain killer. At one point, the mandrake was a very important sedative in operations.
Its root can resemble the form of a human being (a baby when the plant is young and an adult when it matures). Legend has it that when the root is dug up it screams loudly and kills all those who hear it.
The Arabs call the mandrake, ‘luffah’ or ‘beid el-jinn’, which means genie’s eggs. In Hebrew the word mandrake means ‘the love plant’. Because of this the mandrake is mentioned in various texts, including the Bible. Jacob’s wife Rachel asks her sister Leah, to give her some mandrakes and in return she will let her sleep with her husband. Rachel needs the mandrakes to get pregnant. Shakespeare makes reference to mandrakes in four of his stories: Romeo & Juliet, Othello, Antony & Cleopatra and King Henry VI.
This poisonous plant grows mainly in central Europe, Corsica and the lands around the Mediterranean.