The species of Mandragora are perennial herbaceous plants. They have large vertical tap-roots, sometimes forked. Their stems are short or virtually absent. The leaves form a rosette at the base of the plant. The flowers are sometimes borne on a short stalk (scape), and are solitary, with whorls of five parts. The sepals are joined at the base, as are the petals, both in the shape of a lobed bell. The stamens are shorter than the petals, joined to the floral tube towards the base. The ovary has two chambers (locules). After fertilization, a yellow or orange fruit forms (botanically a berry).
Peter says (of himself)…
I have been a keen plantsman most of my life & have had consuming interests in many plant groups beginning when I was 18 & noticed for the first time the responses of plants to the changing of the seasons. My father was a keen gardener & had tried unsuccessfully to inspire interest in me, mainly by handing me a hoe or hose & demanding my forced labour. My interests have evolved from succulents to orchids through carnivorous plants & ferns & settled during my middle years on fruiting plants which were the focus of my working life for decades. I imported hundreds of cultivars over the years some of which are still at hand though many if not most succumbed to the ravages of 2 divorces in the late 1990s. I have always had an interest in bulbs, tubers corms etc & in recent years have a particular interest in the Amaryllidaceae. I am particularly fond of Amaryllis. I also have a vast number of Clivia of all types many of which are products of the cutting edge of current breeding efforts.
My interest in Mandragora is somewhat incidental & grows out of a broader interest in ethnobotany & a particular interest in Solanaceae.
Peter's presentation was little short of inspiring! His enthusiasm and depth of knowledge on this and many other plant related species was most entertaining. Those that missed this meeting have our permission to "kick" themselves! We hope to see Peter again at a later date.