The mandrake is a perennial herb that is part of the potato family. Its leaves grow almost directly from the taproot, then fan out in a circle and lie close to the ground. Each plant grows a single white, blue, or purple flower on a stalk, which thereafter develops into a yellowish-red fruit that is about the size of a plum and is described as having the sweet, fresh odor of an apple.
The thick, often-forked taproot may resemble a man’s lower limbs. Therefore (like ginseng), superstitious beliefs have developed about the mandrake having magical powers.
In ancient times, mandrake fruit was used as a narcotic. In some parts of the Middle East it’s still thought to be an aphrodisiac and an aid to human fertility and conception. This is likely the reason why Jacob’s wives RachaEl and Leah, who, when they were unable to bear children, considered this fruit so valuable.
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