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Himalayan mandrakeHimalayan Mandrake (Podophyllum hexandrum) Info
This handsome relative of American mandrake comes from the Himalayas and has a similar long, narrow root that travels horizontally. Like Mandragora, this magick herb grows in woodlands and is poisonous, typical of a Saturn plant. It is a nevertheless a wonderful plant to grow along with other magickal woodland plants, like monkshood or wolfsbane, or to outline a woodland circle, and can be used for the same magickal purposes as regular mandrake. It is much more likely to fruit in North America than is Mandragora, so its dead ripe fruits could be a good substitution in love magick. It is also very much a Fae plant. Top

The Plant
Himalayan mandrake fruitThis plant gets 1.5 ft/.5 m high and has leaves 10 inches across with 3-5 lobes. The handsome leaves have 3-5 lobes and are often blotched with purplish brown when they are young or in early spring. The leaves are often seen partially open, like a halfway furled umbrella, which charms kids and adults alike. Unlike American mandrake, the flowers of the Himalayan variety are held above the leaves and so are easy to see. The white or pink flowers are 2 inches wide and appear in May to June. The whole plant is poisonous except for the long red fruits when they completely ripen in August. The fruits are edible when they are dead ripe; they have little taste but do have a pleasant scent. Squirrels and chipmunks find them irresistible. Top

In Herbalism  

Himalayan mandrake flowerThe root of Himalayan mandrake has been employed against tumors in traditional Chinese medicine for the past 2000 years. Its root is twice as strong as that of American mandrake; both contain podophyllin, which is an drastic emetic and interferes with cell division. Since 1985 podophyllin has been made into a Western allopathic drug used to treat lung cancer, and this has led to such overharvesting of Himalayan mandrake that it has become endangered in its native range in only 15 years. Help this plant out by planting some seeds here. This plant is also known as Podophyllum emodi, Himalayan mayapple, Chinese mayapple, Sinopodophyllum chinense, and Indian podophyllum. These seeds come in a plastic bag because they are moist-stored. Top

How to grow Himalayan mandrake: Sow outside in fall or give cold moist stratification in the refrigerator in the folds of a moist paper towel for 3 months, and then plant. Seeds can take 1-4 months to germinate; keep soil moist but not sopping during that time and in indirect light. Once they come up, transplant to a shaded site protected from winds, to rich, moist shoil with plenty of peat worked in; this plant cannot grow in sun. It takes several years to get established before it begins to make fruits and flowers. Young plants have one leaf; older plants have several. It will gradually spread through creeping rhizomes. This plant especially enjoys growing in fir forests, scrub forests, and alpine meadows at heights of 14,500ft/4500m. It is hardy to zone 5-6 (-20F/-28C). Use only organic fertilizers like fish emulsion and compost tea on this plant. You can make more plants by dividing the roots in March/April.  General growing info. Top

 

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Substitute for European Mandrake
Fae Magic
Saturn Herb

2004, 2014 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission