“….in the Mediterranean there grows a…murderous plant called the mandrake. Its roots can look bizarrely like a human body, and legend holds that it can even come in male and female form. It’s said to spring from the dripping fat and blood…of a hanged man. Dare pull it from the earth and it lets out a monstrous scream, bestowing agony and death to all those within earshot….”
Ew. But it is true that these beliefs—and many others, including that a dog had to be sacrificed in order to drag the plant from the ground!—were held of this plant, Mandragora officinarum. I have taken the above quote from this post
In ancient times, the mandrake root was used by the Greeks to produce an anaesthetic for surgery. This use was continued into the Middle Ages. The Greeks also used it as an aphrodisiac, calling it the ‘love-apple of the ancients’. It was, of course, associated with the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. The Bible relates that to the ancient Hebrews, it was used to induce conception.
At her trial of 1431, Joan of Arc was accused of carrying mandrake with her as a means of controlling the minds of others. And by the 16th century, in England, mandrake was still so much in demand for its various properties, that bryony roots were being crafted to appear like mandrake, and then sold as such.
To read more of this ‘dangerous’ plant, go here
And yet it looks so innocent!