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Poisonous Plants in GB

20 21 MAndrAke Mandragora officinarum Family Solanaceae. Synonyms Satans apple, love apple, from German dragon doll, gallows man. Found in Southern Europe and Asia, but important in British folklore. Deadly, though in Persia some strains had edible fruits. References to mandrake in the Old Testament illustrate its traditional association with amour Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him and said, you must sleep with me tonight, for I have certainly paid your hire with my sons mandrakes. So he slept with her that night. Genesis 3016. The mandrakes give forth fragrance, and over our doors are all manner of choice fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for you, O my beloved Song of Solomon 713 In Hebrew mandrake is ddim,or love plant referring to its aphrodisial qualities. In Arabic the fruit is beid eljinn, or genies eggs. Named after draco and endowed with lifeforce, mandrake was placed under a bed, or over the mantle or threshold to bring conception, attract love and luck. The anthropomorphic root could house the witchs familiar or be baptised in a persons name to work magic on them for benefit or bane. It was said to grow under the gallows where the semen of hanged men fell to earth and if whosoever uprooted it should hear the plant scream they would die, so a dog was often employed to uproot it. Similar in composition to deadly nightshade, henbane and thornapple see it was like them used in witches flying ointments, and was also used as a charm to repel evil from AngloSaxon times. Medically the mandrake treated pain, rheumatism, and foul ulcers, and was a general anaesthetic the danger of it causing madness or death being well known.
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