Mandrangora officinarum L. - syn. Atropa mandragora L., nom. illeg. - Solanaceae
mandrake, Devil's apples, Mandragora, Alraune
Prostrate perennial herb, native to the Mediterranean; taproot thick and often branched, sometimes resembling a human figure (legs, arms); leaves borne in a basal rosette, elliptic or obovate; petals greenish white to pale blue; fruit a globose or ovoid berry, glossy yellow to orange when ripe (resembling a small tomato).
„Because mandrakes contain deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids and the shape of their roots often resembles human figures, they have been associated with a variety of superstitious practices throughout history. They have long been used in magic rituals…“
The fresh root sap (sweetened with honey) is used in former times internally as laxative, expectorant, cholagogue, and analgesic, but higher doses are (deadly) toxic. The fresh green leaves were crushed with malt to treat inflamed eyes and ulcers externally.
[Kreutterbuch, Leonhart Fuchs, 1543, Cap.CCI]
Alkaloids present in mandragora roots include atropine (R,S-hyoscyamine), scopolamine, scopine, apoatropine and belladonnines.
[Über die chemischen Bestandteile der Mandragorawurzel, 2.Die Alkaloide., Staub, H., Helvetica Chimica Acta, 45(7), 1962, 2297-2305]
Blackwell, E., Herbarium Blackwellianum, vol.4 t.364 (1760)