Mandrake Roots: Real Life Harry Potter Characters
July 26, 2016
While you may be familiar with the screaming anthropomorphized potato characters from the very popular Harry Potter franchise, you should probably know the idea for the character is based on a very real plant.
Mandrake Roots aren’t just Fictional Harry Potter plants. Their roots stem back (pun intended) to the 17th century when these plants were used for medicinal purposes. Thought to cure fertility issues, these plants became a hot commodity, although, they came at a price.
Mandrake roots have carried with them myth and legend throughout the ages. In the movie Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, students wore ear muffs to block the screams of the young mandrakes, which were thought to kill whoever heard its shrieks. However, according to lore, earmuffs won’t save you from its high pitch wails. In order to collect the mandrake without seeking an unfortunate end, farmers would tie a mandrake to a dog and then lure it with food; thus, killing the dog but leaving you with a freshly pulled mandrake (it’s important to note this is only a myth).
Mandrake roots originated in the Mediterranean and are part of the nightshade family. The same family that gives us tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, peppers, tobacco and goji berries. The nightshade family is notorious for its poisonous offspring. Historically mandrake roots have been used in conjunction with other plants as a natural anesthetic. With the proper dosages, the plants put a patient in a deep sleep so doctors could perform surgery.
While mandrakes aren’t popular in Florida, you can find them and other deadly plants at the Florida Natural History Museum for a limited time between now and January 2017 at the Wicked Plants exhibit.
No dogs were harmed in the creation of this blog.