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Spoonful of Sugar: Medicinal Preparation in the Domestic Sphere

Meredith E. Torre, Guest Curator
December 1, 2006 - February 28, 2007
Male & female mandrake drawing
Peters, Hermann.
Pictorial History of Ancient Pharmacy.
3rd ed.
Chicago: G. P. Englehard, 1902, c.1899.
Ebling Library call number RS 61 P48

The mandrake, native to the Mediterranean regions of Greece and Rome, is a long leafed plant with small green-yellow or purple bell-shaped flowers that bear inedible fruit. Its physical characteristics were considered humanistic.

The female mandrake has a forked look resembling a pair of human legs, whereas the male has only a single root. The female mandrakes are often called "woman-drakes" and are shaped like the body of a woman just as the male mandrake roots are in the shape of a man's. The first accounts of the Mandrake date back to the Bible. They were believed to contain aphrodisiac qualities and provided the main ingredient used in spells dealing with love and fertility.

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