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Mandragora from the garden to Macchiavelli

Mandragora from the garden to Macchiavelli

The Mandragora roots are considered an aphrodisiac but they are also killers and have inspired stories and comedies. Come and see the vegetable garden at Fattoria del Colle


Mandragora -autumnalis -Bertol

In the big vegetable garden at Fattoria del Colle there are 80 species and 500 plants. Some of them have a story and a myth, such as Mandragora, considered an aphrodisiac and a killer



Niccolò Macchiavelli wrote the  The Mandrake comedy in five acts, for the marriage of  Lorenzo dé Medici and Margherita de La Tour, at the beginning of the 16th century. It talks about a funny and irreverent episode that was a great success.

So, this story takes place in Florence in 1504.  The young and rich Callimaco returns from Paris to Florence


attracted by the fame and beauty of Lucrezia, faithful wife to and old, pompous and foolish husband, Messer Nicia.  Nicia thinks that his wife is sterile and hence he tries to find a remedy through the doctor, who convinces him to make Lucrezia drink a potion made with Mandragora, consequently  she will remain pregnant but the man who sleeps with her will die.

Obviously Nicia has no intention of dying for love and so decides to kidnap a stranger from the streets in Florence and to put him in bed with Lucrezia. So, with the help of a corrupt monk, Nicia convinces his wife to let the stranger make love to her and so the plot unfolds. In truth it is Callimaco who finally gets into bed with Lucrezia, and who after a hot night of love with her will reveal the deception towards her husband and declare his love for her. As a result the joke has a happy ending as Lucrezia falls in love with Callimaco.

<< Poiché la tua astuzia, la stupidità di mio marito, l’ingenuità di mia madre e la malizia del mio confessore mi hanno condotta a fare quello che mai avrei per me fatto, voglio credere che tutto questo derivi dalla volontà celeste, per cui io non ho il potere di rifiutare quello che il Cielo ha voluto>>

Since your cunning, my husband’s stupidity, my mother’s ingenuity and my confessor’s malice led me to do what I would never have done for me, I want to believe that all this comes from the celestial will, so I do not I have the power to reject what Heaven wanted

With the apparent divine blessing and the happiness of the cheated husband Lucrezia and Callimaco become regular lovers.


This plant is a Solanaceae and has two versions, the Mandragora autumnalis Bertol

Mandragora autumnalis Bertolant anthropomorphic root

with autumnal blue-violet flowers and the Mandragora vernalis Bertol that flowers in the spring with white green flowers. The first is commonly called  Mandragola femmina in Italy, and in folklore has magical powers and supernatural virtues due also to its anthropomorphic  root.

Furthermore the root is shaped like a carrot. and can grow up to one and a half meters deep. Actually the Mandragora contains powerful alkaloids that produce toxic and hallucinogenic effects but it does not have the same virtues as Viagra.


Mandragora is widespread in the hottest areas of the Mediterranean; it lives underground during the hotter month and sprouts in autumn flowering for the whole winter season, even under the snow.  After the flowering come the fruits, these are oval shaped yellow-orange berries. Because of its long root it is difficult to grow Mandragora in a vase and it always need soil that is deep, calcareous, with good drainage and slightly in the shade. Furthermore if the water stagnates the root rots.

Mandragora must be watered little in the summer while it is dormant, and underground, and more when it is in vegetation (from September to March) when it is also useful to help the plants with fertilizer.

In the first three years the plant grows very slowly. Above all it does not like to be moved.


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