Mandrake is the root of the Mandragora plant of the nightshade family native to southern Europe. It has bell shaped flowers of either white or purple each of which has its own singular stalk leading down to a group of large leaves at the base. The roots themselves can grow up to 4 feet under the ground. The plant itself is poisonous but can be used in a variety of ways. For instance you can create a rub to ease rheumatism by mixing the roots with alcohol. By placing the root on top of money it is said to make money multiply and if placed on the mantle piece it is said to prevent demons from entering the house. During the past they were also carved into amulets to carry and bring good luck to the wearer. The Saxons considered mandrake, as well as periwinkle, the definitive herbs for use in cases of demonic possession. The plant was said to grow under the gallows of murderers, and sprouted from the bodily drippings of criminals and to shriek when dug up. The sound would kill a man or drive him insane. So, to avoid this fate, you were supposed to tie a dog to the plant and he would pull it up and die in the man's place.
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