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European Mandrake
Mandragora officinarum
Uses: Culinary/Medicinal/Beverage/Aromatic/Industrial Duration: Perennial (hardy in zones 6-8)
When to Sow: Anytime Ease of Germination: Moderate
A fascinating stemless plant with a subterranean mass of thick roots 3-4 feet deep. Often confused with American mandrake or mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) growing in cool forests from Canada to Texas, the European variety is completely different, sharing only the moniker and vaguely similar fleshy yellow-orange edible fruits. Its branched roots uncanningly resemble the human form with a head, arms and legs, adding to its mystique as a tool of magic for sorcerers and witches. In ancient times the roots were used as an anesthetic and to treat melancholy, but their strong emetic and purgative properties make the roots quite poisonous to use. The fruits are much safer to use. A sweet alcoholic liqueur made with the fruits has been hailed a sensational new aphrodisiac in Israel. It raises sperm counts, cures impotence, and heightens female interest in sex. Stories abound of how mandrake has transformed the sex lives of Israelis. One young man was quoted as saying, “We just can’t stop making love. We’ve been doing it so much we can hardly stand.” The seeds are germinating nicely, coming up in about 14 days. European mandrake is hardy in USDA zones 6-8, and can be grown in deep planters where it is not hardy. It contents itself with any deep well drained soil and full or partial sun exposure.
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Currency: United States Dollar

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