Mandragora Species
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Manolis
Posted on: February 06, 2005

I write to you from Greece. Can you tell me the difference between Mandragora officinalis and Mandragora autumnalis? What difference do they have in the root shape or they have none? Where can I buy mandrake seeds?

The correct name of the first species is Mandragora officinarum. M. officinalis is a synonym for both M. officinarum and M. autumnalis.

According to Flora Europea, some of what has been called M. officinarum is in fact M. autumnalis, so that the two names can be regarded as partial synonyms. In Europe, M. autumnalis is found in Greece (especially Crete), Spain, Italy (esp. Sicily and Sardinia), and in Portugal. M. officinarum is endemic throughout the Mediterranean.

I do not have detailed descriptive information on M. autumnalis nor do I have available to me a current taxonomic key. One distinguishing characteristic appears to be its deep purple flower. Here are links to some images from the web:

http://www.plantoftheweek.org/week080.shtml http://hortiplex.gardenweb.com/plants/p1/gw1025173.html

Below are links to pictures of mature Mandragora officinarum from the web, but I would point out that the species exhibits variation in morphology. Our plants, for instance, do not have the crinkled leaves shown in the pictures.

http://pharm1.pharmazie.uni-greifswald.de/allgemei/serturn/arzpfl-b/mandra-o.jpg http://www.awl.ch/heilpflanzen/mandragora_officinarum/

I do not have any information on root sizes. M. officinarum produces huge roots up to a meter long.

Richters carries mandrake seeds. Please visit http://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?product=X3863.

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