Mandrake, also known as Mandragora, is a magical plant that grows in the wizarding world of the Harry Potter series. It is known for several of its special medicinal properties which include it being the prime ingredient in the powerful restorative draught prepared to cure people who have been petrified. Furthermore, Mandrakes are also known to have very similar properties to humans and their growth behaviours are very similar to that of humans. The mandrakes at Hogwarts were constantly under the care of Professor Pomona Sprout and were used at the end of Harry’s second year to restore those who had been petrified. Professor Sprout is one of the very few wizarding-world characters with impeccable skills in Herbology.
Mandrake Species Profile
Other name: Mandragora
Type of being: Sentient
Natural Habitat: Soil or clay
Special features: The cry of the mandrake is fatal to anyone who hears it, but in the case of a young mandrake, the cry only causes dizziness or unconsciousness.
Used for: Making a restorative draught that cures people who are petrified, in Herbology classes and as weapons as they can cause fatal results by crying.
Appearance and Specifications
Stem: Greenish-brown in color, with a craggily textured body.
Leaves: Purplish green in color, large and wrinkled.
Roots: Brown in color, craggily textured body with long and thick taproot system that is forked usually.
Mythology And Meaning
Mandrakes are actual plants found in several parts of the world. They can be poisonous to humans when taken in large quantities and may cause hallucinations if ingested in small amounts. However, they are more popular through mythology and folklore. Mandrakes were initially called Mandragora, due to their old English origins. It loosely translates to a ‘tiny dragon that can resist burning’. Mandrakes have long been tied to the dragons etymologically until the dragon-related term was replaced by the native ‘drake’. Mandrakes are widely mentioned throughout a wide range of mythologies and folklore including Christian, Arab and Jewish mythology.
Appearance and Reputation
Usually grown in a pot, especially in the Herbology classes that Harry attends, Mandrakes look a lot like humans in their original state in that, they have limb-like anatomical structures, as well as a torso and a face. Harry observes them as ‘tufty little plants’. They have a long taproot system that is thick and extends through the soil when underground. Both their stem and leaves are green in color and the entirety of mandrakes is used in potion making and in antidotes.
Mandrakes have a reputation for being notoriously similar to teenagers as they grow. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, at Hogwarts, the mandrakes are said to be moody and brooding in the beginning and to the great relief of Professor Sprout end up throwing a party, which implied that they were almost ready to be harvested. Furthermore, they also have problems like acne which are similar to something a teenager would have during adolescence.
Despite being potted plants when grown by humans, in the wild, mandrakes also happen to be food for some magical creatures. This includes the Dugbog and Flesh-Eating Slugs.
Mandrakes are known to possess several magical abilities and have been used over the years in a wide variety of ways. The most important use of Mandrake is in the discipline of potion-making. Several potions, especially restorative potions use almost every part of the mandrake as a key ingredient. Mandrakes form an essential part of most antidotes and are used extensively. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, all the victims who were petrified, including Hermione Granger are given the mandrake restorative draught. Essential information on the preparation of these draughts and antidotes is present in several books in the Hogwarts Library.
Another popular magical ability of mandrakes is their wail. A wailing mandrake is one of the most dangerous things to hear. Even in mythology outside of the Harry Potter universe, a mandrake’s wail is feared. The wail of a baby mandrake is not lethal, but it can cause dizziness, nausea, and fainting fits. However, it is said that an adult mandrake’s scream could kill a person who hears it. They are even used by Professor Sprout as weapons in the Battle of Hogwarts to fight Death Eaters. Interestingly, plenty of magic beings including Banshees have wails that are lethal.
Book and Movie Appearances
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in Herbology class, despite being given earmuffs to wear, Neville Longbottom just faints after hearing a baby mandrake’s wail. It is a very famous scene in the movie installments too, and movie fans consider it one of the defining scenes for Neville’s character. It is one magical movie moment that portrays Neville as one of the scared and frightful kids. Others include him falling off the broom during the flying lessons, being attached to the chandelier by a bunch of pixies, and being hexed by Hermione before the trio leaves to protect the Philosopher’s Stone. However, movie realism eventually develops Neville’s character into that of a brave man.
Fans of the film also consider Draco Malfoy’s expression when he gets bitten by a mandrake as a priceless scene. Although not exactly creatures, fans of the iconic series, including the film series, consider mandrakes as one of the most unforgettable creatures because of the funny scenes they gave rise to.
Other Representations of the Mandrake
Fans of the wizarding world are also familiar with mandrakes in several other settings including Harry Potter videogames and mandrake collectibles. Mandrakes are also seen in the Lego Harry Potter Series, Years I-IV video games, where the players require earmuffs to pass through them. There exist a wide variety of collectible mandrake merchandise including the mandrake vinyl planting pot with a mandrake figure that has poseable arms, the mandrake portrait figure, and several other gifts that involve the mandrake.
Would it be Better if They Imported Mandrakes Early from Elsewhere?
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the Mandrakes were the only hope for the people who were petrified by the Basilisk. However, the Mandrakes would only be ready by the end of the school year, as they were just freshly planted as the year started. Therefore, it implied that early victims like Mrs. Norris and Justin Finch Fletchley would have to stay petrified for a good part of the year.
While it is evident that getting Mandrakes from somewhere else to relieve the victims of this plight would have been a good idea, we wonder if it would have made things better after all. Our verdict is that it wouldn’t have, mainly because the root of all these problems was not the lack of a cure for victims, but the Chamber of Secrets itself. Without figuring out where it was and shutting it down, treating the victims of the Basilisk early would probably have enraged Tom Riddle’s ghost-like apparition and probably would have ended up causing more harm, resulting in more victims.
Why do Mandrakes scream in Harry Potter?
Mandrakes are ancient plants with magical properties. However, the mandrake is said to have a wail that is fatal for anyone who hears it. According to superstitious beliefs, a person who uproots the mandrake by its root when it is growing is supposed to be condemned to hell and this happens instantly after the person hears the mandrake’s wails. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the mandrakes scream whenever they are uprooted from the soil so that the students could plant them in pots.
What did Hermione say about Mandrakes?
Hermione was the first to raise her hands to answer when asked by Professor Sprout about mandrakes in Herbology class. Hermione said, “Mandrake or Mandragora is a powerful restorative. It is used to return people who have been transfigured or cursed to their original state.” Interestingly, at the end of the book, Hermione herself is restored from her petrified state with the help of a mandrake restorative draught.
What do Mandrake leaves do in Harry Potter?
Mandrake leaves are said to possess a wide range of magical properties. They are used extensively in making potions and antidotes, including restorative draughts. It is said that mandrake leaves also play a major role in Animagus transformations, as any wizard or witch willing to become an Animagus must hold the mandrake leaf in their mouth for a whole month.