|Hermann Peters 1899|
|de Bry's Florilegium 1641|
|Tacuinum Sanitatis 1474|
root of folly
servant of health
Mandrake originates in the eastern Mediterranean
region and is distributed throughout southern Europe,
the Middle East and northern Africa,
where it grows in waste places and abandoned fields
in sandy and rocky, well draining soil. There is also
a species that is endemic to the Himalaya.
Nowadays it is cultivated in gardens north of the Alps,
but doesn't naturalize there, as it needs a warm
and protected setting. It doesn't tolerate frost well
and in cultivation needs to be mulched during the winter.
It has a large, brown root, somewhat like a parsnip,
running 3 or 4 feet deep into the ground, sometimes single
and sometimes divided into two or three branches.
Immediately from the crown of the root arise several large,
dark-green leaves, spread open and lie upon the ground.
From among these leaves spring the flowers, somewhat
tinged with purple. They are succeeded by a smooth,
round fruit, about as large as a small apple, full of pulp
and with a strong, apple-like scent.
The leaves are quite harmless and cooling, and have been
used for ointments and other external application.
The fresh root and dried bark operate very powerfully
as an emetic and purgative. Mandrake was much used
by the Ancients, who considered it an anodyne and soporific.
In large doses it is said to excite delirium and madness.
witchcraft. The most spellbinding of them all is
thought to be little dolls or figures given to sorcerers
by the devil for the purpose of being consulted by them
in time of need. Alraune was the name given to these dolls.
Originally, an Alraune might have been any talisman
carved into human likeness and possibly inscribed with
a spell. The Grimm brothers later write how the alraune
answered questions about the future and told their owner
all they wanted to know.