DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mandrake root. Coloured woodcut of the root of a mandrake plant, Mandragora autumnalis, once widely used for narcotic and medicinal purposes. The root of the plant is shown as a man. The mandrake is a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region. Its long taproot was once thought to resemble a human; it was believed that the root would scream when pulled from the ground, deafening the collector. The root contains hysocamine, scopolamine and mandragorin. Its effect when taken is to cause hallucinations followed by sleep and possibly death. Image taken from John Gerard's Herbal of the 16th century.
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