Mandrake

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Miniature man

Harry Potter and mandrake

Harry Potter and mandrake

The ‘Mandrake Mandagora’ occurs in the famous Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. It’s one of the many magical plants and animals Harry and his friends run into. The plant can’t just be traced back to centuries worth of superstition, it also occurs in old, then scientific, texts, alongside creatures such as unicorns, phoenixes, and dragons.

Mandrake, or Mandragora officinarum, and especially its paralyzing and narcotic effects, were mentioned by Plinius the Elder and Claudius Galenus as early as the first centuries AD. Pythagoras, the one famous for the mathematical theorem, described the root as a ‘miniature man’. These descriptions are at the root of the magical qualities assigned to the plant in the centuries that came after.