Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Mandrake, Devil's Apple, Dudaim, Love Apple
Mandragora officinarum

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Mandragora (man-DRAG-or-uh) (Info)
Species: officinarum (off-ik-IN-ar-um) (Info)

Synonym:Atropa mandragora
Synonym:Mandragora officinalis

23 members have or want this plant for trade.

Alpines and Rock Gardens

Unknown - Tell us

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

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4 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive twinger On Apr 29, 2012, twinger from Harbeck-Fruitdale, OR wrote:

I started growing Mandrake two years ago after buying some seeds from an online vendor. after speeding up the germination process in my fridge for two weeks, I planted three different pots at 3 different times, and out of those three pots only one plant survived. they are very picky buggers. I have one root that came up a year ago which I have planted in a 3ft tall sewer pipe. it has lost its leaves now three times in that year, last week was the third time. I am contemplating on weather I should dig it up, and change the soil to a more sandy, loomy, peaty soil? the soil it is in now has given me the best results so far as it has grown healthy from 11/27/2011 to 4/26/2012 a little over four months. does anyone have a thought on this?

Positive paracelsus On Mar 1, 2010, paracelsus from Elmira, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I've grown mandrakes for many years. They are difficult to germinate, although I have developed a method using cold water soaks that speeds up germination some. I have also grown them from root pieces--the brittleness of the roots indicates to me that the plant favors such propagation--but they can lie dormant for months before sending up any growth at all. Once I threw a piece out and it sent up leaves in my compost pile about 8 months later. They also like to go dormant at inconvenient times. For instance, this year all my mandrakes went dormant about a month after I brought them out of the house for the winter and put them in shade outside. They stayed dormant most of the summer and then started growing in November. The larger ones, which were the only ones that didn't go dormant, flowered then. It is like they are on their own internal clock. I've had plants fruit a couple times, but they need a good long run of good leaf production and flowering. So often somewhere along the way they go dormant.

I have gotten many good-sized roots within a year and a half to two years using regular potting soil and 1 to 5 gallon pots. They enjoy being wintered over inside in my zone 6, which is too cold for them to stay in the ground. They do fine with shop lights an inch or so away from the top of the leaves, but they are very prone to aphids. This year when I brought them in and put them under lights, they immediately burst out with jillions of aphids, so I decided to harvest the roots. I have them drying in dehydrators as I write.

This is a great plant with just a joyous feel about it.

Neutral SLIVERMOON22 On Nov 12, 2009, SLIVERMOON22 from Oakhurst, NJ wrote:


This will be an out of the box posting.

My 19 year old son suffers from insomnia (he is bipolar) and has been on Lunesta, which has some nasty side effects. Though, it puts him to sleep. He is afraid to go off of it because sleep is too important for his functioning.

I am a professional dowser (pendulum) and use the pendulum to dowse for mostly health related issues. I had never heard of this plant before, but used my homeopathic list to dowse for a alt remedy.

I have a listing of 1500 homeopathic medicines.

The number it gave me pointed to this plant for remedy.
I just bought some and will ask him to try it. I will hopefully remember to come back here and let you know.

I trust the pendulum to give me correct answers on health issues.
It has saved many in our family for many years.


Positive tyler70006 On Aug 6, 2009, tyler70006 from New Orleans, LA wrote:

I grew some from seeds purchased from an on-line vendor. Out of 10 seeds I got 4 plants. They did take 15 days for the first to sprout and 30 days for the last one. The first summer they grew to about 4 inches and dropped their leaves around October. They started to grow again around April then quickly dropped their leaves again. I believe they do not like our very hot weather in New Orleans, So I brought them inside near a west facing window. They started to grow again after one week in the A/C. So far they seem to be doing great. They are all in one large pot and I water them once a week. Overall a very interesting plant for a gardener that wants to try something unusual. I believe you will not see them available at too many places nor will you see them in many peoples collections.

Neutral Rauthulfr On Jul 21, 2006, Rauthulfr from Renton, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Mandragora is an odd plant, it spends most of the year underground. There are both Spring and Fall varieties. The 'Spring' leaves begin to develop in about March here (area 9). By August, they cannot be seen any more.

I got both varieties as live plants. They have done quite well protected from both too much sun and cold. The leaves can run up to about 5 inches wide and about a foot or so long when fully mature.

After about ten years in one pot, I transplanted it to a deeper one. Ancient and medieval herbal lore credits the root with a fully mature depth of three feet! In ten years I can only give it about a foot in length. I did use a mixture which included some potting soil mixed in with the rather sandy clay of our local yard soil.

In the process of transplanting I discovered that the plant had developed essentially two 'heads' and separated them with a bit of soil between. The result of that can be seen in the picture I posted: Fruit!

I also have the autumnalis variety, which for some reason likes to come up in April rather than in the late fall around here. Well, the Seattle area is hardly the place or origin.

Positive NiGHTS On May 18, 2006, NiGHTS from Los Gatos, CA wrote:

I have grown mandrake for several years and had mixed experiences. I love the plant, but it is definitely a picky prima donna, and the Bay Area region of California doesn't seem to be the best place to grow it. In my area, the plant does best if potted in deep pots, as it develops an extremely long root system (the root can grow over 4 feet long!). The main root system sends out a thin probing root and will stop growing when the probe senses the bottom of the container; so the deeper, the better (an old garbage can, or something thinner, but with a similar depth, would be ideal - but at a bare minimum, 12" of depth).

Where I am, I have never gotten fruit, or even flowers from my mandrakes. Leaves grow upwards quickly and then flatten out. The leaves will remain green for several months, and then suddenly all the leaves will turn brown and fall off, leaving a dead looking plant. However, if you water the plant, within a day or two, you'll have new leaves. If kept indoors, mandrake repeats this cycle year-round. If the pot is not deep enough, this will occur on a more regular basis; the leaves of deeper potted plants seem to last longer. I have been told that in order to get fruit from the plant, you must keep the leaves on for at least 6-9 months, which is very hard in many places.

Take care when watering, as most leaves that come into contact with water and/or soil tend to die back. If leaves do become wet, remove the exess water as soon as possible. The plant also seems to like only occasional watering; if you overwater, the plant will let you know (ie. the leaves will turn brown, fall off, and you'll have to wait for new leaves to emerge). To make things more difficult, underwatered mandrakes will lose their leaves and go you'll need to play around and see what works best in your area. Partial shade is recommended, and definitely keep them out of direct sunlight. Mandrakes like rich, acidic soil. Try mixing potting soil, peat, sand, and loam.

Mandrake can be grown from seed, but needs 2+ weeks of cold water stratification. Seedlings can take a while to emerge, and seedlings from the same batch will emerge at completely different times. Propegation by root division is the most common method, since not many people are able to get fruit/seeds from their plants.

Neutral Baa On Oct 28, 2001, Baa wrote:

A rosette forming perennial from Southern Europe.

Has wrinkled, ovate or lance shaped, wavy edged, dark green leaves which lie flat on the ground. Bears bell shaped, white sometimes purple flowers borne in clusters in the centre of the leaves and small yellow fruit.

Flowers anywhere between October - April but more commonly seen in the Spring.

Likes a well drained, deep, fertile soil in full sun. It hates to be disturbed from the soil.


This plant has a long history in medicine as it was one of the first plants used for its narcotic properties.

It is currently more famous for its large fleshy roots which are sometimes bifurcated (forked, trousers are bifurcate) sometimes reaching over 4ft long which allegedly scream when pulled up (not heard it myself).

Its ancient medicinal use was quite varied, it was used in the treatment of depression, healing wounds, insomnia, indigestion and infertility.

The more modern use is as a homeopathic remedy for coughs and asthma.

Its other uses were as an anesthetic, a starch and as a poison, probably the most famous users of Mandrake as a poison were the Borgias.

It was also sold as an aphrodisiac.

As a witchcraft plant it was used as a doll due to its shape. Also used to expel demons from people, this is probably from an earlier use in the treamtment of mental illness. It was also kept as a talisman against evil spirits and later as a prosperity talisman.

It is reputed to scream when dug up and cause whoever dug it to die so hungry dogs were tied to the plant and thrown meat to pull up the plant from the ground. That is of course after a midnight session of making magic circles with swords and running swiftly to a safe distance with very good ear plugs!


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Emeryville, California
Los Gatos, California
Winter Haven, Florida
New Orleans, Louisiana
Elmira, New York
Grants Pass, Oregon
Leesburg, Virginia
Seattle, Washington (2 reports)

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