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mandrake


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A Mediterranean plant of the nightshade family, with white or purple flowers and large yellow berries. It has a forked fleshy root which supposedly resembles the human form and was formerly widely used in medicine and magic, being thought to promote conception. It was reputed to shriek when pulled from the ground and to cause the death of whoever uprooted it (a dog being therefore traditionally employed for the purpose). Recorded from Middle English, the name comes from medieval Latin mandragora, associated with man (because of the shape of its root) + drake in the Old English sense ‘dragon’.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.


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