Mandrake Lady 

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The logo of the WWW Muskoka checklist is an image of a mandrake (womandrake?). The mandrake (Mandragorum officinarum, Solanaceae) is a herb with a root resembling the human body. As the excerpts from various sources below indicate, the mandrake is thus associated with a variety of magical and other properties. At the same time, it can also be seen as symbolic of the way in which botanical studies such as this checklist combine plants, the human attribute of curiousity about the world around us, and the very human activities of classification and list-making.

Such rank and deadly lustre dwells,
As in those hellish fires that light
The Mandrake's charnel leaves at night.

Thomas Moore.

 
Goe, and catche a falling starre,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me, where all past years are,
Or who cleft the Divels foot.

John Donne.

 

We didn't know the original source of the image. Recently, however, Doug Snead recognized the image and confirmed that it is reproduced on page 50 of the Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants by R. E. Schultes, where the original source is given as

Woodcuts from Hortus sanitatis,
1st edition Mayence, 1485
The copy of this image used here probably came from an antiquarian or botanical book catalog in the late 1970s.

Sources: Baskin, E. (1967) 


Muskoka Flora - Index : Mandrake Lady
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Last revision: 5 July 2009
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