A typical medieval rendering of the mandrake. The mandrake has a lengthy history as a magical plant. Known from ancient times for its anesthetic properties, mandrake is mentioned in the book of Genesis as an aphrodisiac, used by Rachel to conceive a son. Mandrake was sought after by alchemists, and used as an ingredient in numerous magic ‘potions.’ Many myths and legends surround the plant, which was said to resemble a naked human body. Among the many superstitions surrounding the mandrake was the belief that the plant was propagated by the blood of the condemned, and would grow underneath the gallows. It was believed even from ancient times that the plant gave out a such deafening scream when uprooted that a man could be rendered insensible or even killed by the sound. For this reason, dogs were often employed to secure the plant.
Letting the dog do the dirty work