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In the Old Testament the Heb. word is used to denote both the name of the Canaanite goddess, well-known from the Ugaritic texts, and also a wooden cult-object that was her symbol.
Mandragora officinarum or mandrake is the type species of the plant genus Mandragora. As of 2015, sources differ significantly in the species they use for Mandragora plants native to the Mediterranean region. In the narrowest circumscription, M. officinarum is limited to small areas of northern Italy and the coast of former Yugoslavia, and the main species found around the Mediterranean is called Mandragora autumnalis, the autumn mandrake. In a broader circumscription, all the plants native to the countries around the Mediterranean Sea are placed in M. officinarum, which thus includes M. autumnalis. The names autumn mandrake and Mediterranean mandrake are then used. Whatever the circumscription, Mandragora officinarum is a perennial herbaceous plant with ovate leaves arranged in a rosette, a thick upright root, often branched, and bell-shaped flowers followed by yellow or orange berries.
A mandrake is the root of a plant, historically derived either from plants of the genus Mandragora found in the Mediterranean region, or from other species, such as Bryonia alba, the English mandrake, which have similar properties. The plants from which the root is obtained are also called “mandrakes”. Mediterranean mandrakes are perennial herbaceous plants with ovate leaves arranged in a rosette, a thick upright root, often branched, and bell-shaped flowers followed by yellow or orange berries. They have been placed in different species by different authors. They are very variable perennial herbaceous plants with long thick roots (often branched) and almost no stem. The leaves are borne in a basal rosette, and are very variable in size and shape, with a maximum length of 45 cm (18 in). They are usually either elliptical in shape or wider towards the end (obovate), with varying degrees of hairiness.