The mandrake, Mandragora officinalis, is a strange plant mentioned only in Genesis 30:14 and Song of Songs 7:13 although it is a common plant in many parts of Israel. Mandrake is a member of the nightshade family that includes some of the most poisonous plants such as nightshade, jimsonweed, tobacco and, paradoxically, some of the most common vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, green pepper, and eggplants.
As the Bible so accurately describes, the mandrake often grows as a weed in wheat fields. The plant consists of several large, wrinkled, dark green leaves that lie flat upon the ground forming a rosette. In the center of this rosette a cluster of attractive purple flowers appears in the winter. The root of the mandrake may be several feet long and weigh several pounds. It has bizarre often human-like shapes and for this reason is highly regarded by the superstitious. The fruits, as noted in Song of Songs, are produced in the early summer and have a very attractive fragrance. Palestinians warned me that it was toxic. If it is poisonous, then the poison is either very weak or very slow acting as I felt no discomfort after tasting a bit.