A viral picture of what was claimed to be a radish with distinctly human features is actually a mandrake root, of Harry Potter and occult fame. The above photo was shared on Reddit by user johnlikes2garden under the title “This radish looks like his grown arms and legs and is now turning away from home.” It quickly shot to the top of the bulletin board website before being removed for violating rule #6, “Titles must be an exact but concise description of the content.”
Radishes and mandrakes are not related though both bear distinctive roots. Mandrakes, however, have a much more interesting history and are probably best known to contemporary audiences from Harry Potter. In the book series, mandrakes are studied by the students in herbology.
According to lore, when mandrakes are dug they have a scream that can kill a person.
This lore is not original to the Harry Potter series but comes from an occult tradition surrounding the mysteriously humanoid plant root. The plant contains hallucinogenic and narcotic qualities and, according to Botanical.com, was used in the past as an anesthetic for surgery in ancient times. It is native to the Mediterranean and is mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 30:14 and Song of Solomon 7:13. Both read:
During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my beloved.
Mandrakes continue to inspire imagination well into today.
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