Mandragora. Mandragora autumnalis. Mandrake.
Mandragora. Mandragora autumnalis Bertol. Mandrake. Mandragora. (Fam. Solanaceae.)—A perennial, European plant, with spindle-shaped root, which is often forked beneath, and is therefore compared, in shape, to the human figure. In former times this root was supposed to possess magical virtues, especially when collected at certain times, and was used as an amulet to promote fecundity, etc., and the superstition is still cherished in some parts of Europe. The plant is a poisonous narcotic, somewhat similar in its properties to belladonna, to which it is botanically allied. See a paper by Ekert for the history of this drug. (S. W. P., 1913, 425.) Crouzel isolated an alkaloid, mandragorine, which he found similar in properties to atropine. (P. J., 1885, 1067.) It has since been more thoroughly studied by F. B. Ahrens. (Ber. d. Chem. Ges., 1889, 2159-2161.) Mandragorine is colorless, inodorous, deliquescent, melts at from 77° to 79° C. (170.6°-174.2° F.), and has the formula C17H23NO3. It seems to be isomeric with atropine, but is not converted into it by alkalies. The sulphate and the hydrochloride are crystalline and deliquescent. A second alkaloid in much smaller amount was also extracted, of which the gold and platinum double chlorides were formed. Both alkaloids had a mydriatic action. It was much used by the ancients as a narcotic, and as an anesthetic agent before surgical operations. (J. P. C; xv, 290.) Morion or death-wine, said to have been administered previous to the torture, was made from it. Its physiological action has been partially investigated by B. W. Richardson. (B. F. M. R., 1874, 242.)