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common name: Mandrake, Satan's Apple, Pome Di Tchin, Ya Pu Lu
synonyms: Mandragora vernalis, Mandragora acaulis
poisonous or irritant
full sun, part shade
dry soil, moist soil, sandy soil
preferred soil pH: neutral
minimum temp: -15°C
USDA zone: 7 to 9
Rosettes of ovate to lance shaped leaves with wavy margins, growing up from the thickened, carrot-like root. Leaves later droop flat to the ground. Produces a cluster of upward facing bell shaped, greenish white flowers in spring, sometimes with purple staining. Round yellow fruits follow.
Needs a deep, moderately fertile but light well drained soil which is not too wet in winter. Prefers full sun. The deep fleshy roots resent any disturbance. Badly drained soils are likely to cause rotting.
From seed sown in autumn or spring. Also by root cuttings.
Long history of medicinal use but it effectiveness is now regarded as very dubious, perhaps connected more with superstition than fact. The root and other parts do contain powerful chemicals but they also very toxic.
The small apple-like fruits have been considered a delicacy, but may also be poisonous.
Found in open woodland and stony grasslands of Southeastern Europe.
The root often divides into two and its shape is suggestive of the human body. This and its hallucinogenic effects may have led the many legends about Mandrake. In the past it was frequently made into amulets which were believed to bring good fortune, cure sterility etc. There is a superstition that if a person pulls up this root they will be condemned to hell. 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.