NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, LONDON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, LONDON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mandrake (Mancragora officinarum) root. The mandrake is a native European perennial, once widely used for its medicinal and narcotic properties. The main taproot was thought to look like a human figure, with divisions in the root resembling limbs. According to folklore the plant emitted a piercing shriek when uprooted, killing anyone who heard it. Illustration from a copy of 'De Materia Medica' by the Greek physician Dioscorides made in 1460 and owned by Sir Joseph Banks.
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