Mandrake Root

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Mandrake Root (MR) is a magical reagent used frequently in traditional Britannian and Serpent Islander magical practices, and also features prominently in a number of occult practices on Earth. Known to Terran botanists as mandragora, these plants are noted for the humanoid shape of their bifurcated root systems, and many varieties contain hallucinogenic alkaloids which have likely contributed to their notoriety as a witch's staple.

History and Uses[edit]

Harvesting mandrake with the aid of a dog, as shown in the Tacuinum Sanitatis


In Britannian magic, the portion of the mandrake which is employed is the fibrous portion of its tap-root, which must be removed from the plant with a silver utensil, boiled in purified water, and dried before being put to use ritually. Once thus prepared, the mandrake will lend potency to spells which require it, acting as a magical enhancer of the energies invoked by other reagents. Due, no doubt, to its obvious value in weaving powerful magics, the mandrake was for many years a rarity in the Britannian landscape, appearing only in damp swampy regions such as the Bloody Plains and the Fens of the Dead.

Serpent Isle[edit]

Given modern Serpent Islanders' common Sosarian origins with Britannia, it is unsuprising that mandrakes function near identically within this cold world's magical traditions. However, unlike Britannian mages, Serpent Islanders also employ fresh mandrakes for their unique magical properties, which apparently differ from those of the dried compound. Such roots are necessary, for example, in the creation of individualized spellbooks by the Moonshadians.


On Earth, mandrakes (part of the Nightshade family) have long featured as aphrodisiacs and narcotics in both witchcraft and archaic medicine, and have developed a number of legends regarding their origins and harvest. Often said to only grow where the semen of a hanged man has fallen to the earth, mandrakes are said in many myths to issue a scream when pulled from the ground - the sound of which is sometimes said to bring death to all who hear it. Owing to such superstitions, mandrakes were at one time traditionally harvested by tying a dog or other expendable creature to the plant in question, such as that the gatherer could get a safe distance away before the root was unearthed.[1]

Ultima IV[edit]

Mandrake Root can be found at lat-D'G" long-L'G" when both moons are new.


Mandrake Root
Mandrake Character.png
andrake Root - The root of the poisonous Mandrake plant is instantly recognizable by its human shape and its crimson colour. It is said that the sap runs blood-red when the plant is cut down in order to harvest the root. Long prized for its narcotic and purging effects when consumed in minute portions, the Mandrake Root is the most powerful known substance in the weaving of magical spells that give new shape to the very world around us. The variety of Mandrake Root used in the mystic arts is found only in marshy terrain, where the root can thrust deeply into the earth. The more earth that must be moved to retrieve the Mandrake Root, the more potent its effect in the magic of the finder. Many years ago, when our people were but scattered tribes of nomads, the Mandrake was plentiful. As our people have tamed the land, however, and the practice of the mystic arts has become refined, the Mandrake has all but vanished from the face of the land we now call Britannia. It is never seen in the shops of the towns and castles, and hardly even sold privately if found. Many of our profession have devoted lifetimes to the search for Mandrake Root without ever coming into possession of a single piece of it.
Very rare and usually expensive magical herb growing only in swampy areas, mandrake root is said to bring great power to magic that uses it.
The most sought after herb of the spellcaster, mandrake root grows along the loamy banks of stagnant swamps. Once found, mandrake must be dug up carefully so as not to damage the tap root, for it is the root that the greatest concentration of active ingredients is found. Carefully remove the tough, outer skin, again giving special attention to the sensitive tap root. Using a fine-toothed silver fork, comb out the cotton-like fibers that make up the root's heart. The combed matting is boiled in pure water for no more than one hour, after which it is dried thoroughly and stored in a tightly sealed jar. When used in a spell, mandrake root increases the power of the desired enchantment.
This rare plant extract, found only in the darkest, dankest corners of the foulest of swamps, is a most sought after magical reagent. It is also one of the most difficult of all reagents to prepare, for in being dug up the tap root of the mandrake plant must not be broken. Also, that root itself must be properly prepared, boiled and dried. Mandrake root can be found on the Bloody Marsh and in a place known as the Fens of the Dead, south of Paws.
This is, perhaps, the most difficult reagent to procure, for the method of collection requires precise cutting below the mucky bed of a swamp. Once boiled and dried, mandrake root is an excellent power enhancer for many spells. The swamps of Gorlab have a large supply of the natural root; it grows on Monk Island, as well, I am told.
Mandrake root was known to mages of yore as the Roof of Life for its aptitude in binding spells of power. Once thriving on silted riverbanks, this root in the shape of a human form has since become quite scarce. When found, keep it on your person, as the lowliest thief knows its value on the black market.


Calumny explains Mandrake Harvesting in in Yoko Tanaka's Quest of the Avatar manga (scanlation by Blu3vib3, translation by Racapowski)
  • In the Nintendo port of Ultima IV, the play may, in fact, buy "Manroot" at apothecary shops by pressing the "SELECT" button while selecting their purchase.[2]
  • In Yoko Tanaka's manga re-telling of Ultima IV, the Deane and his party members must at one point gather a total of fifty mandrakes that they might convince Mariah to join them. They are assisted in the endeavor by Deane's former tutor, Calumny, who explains in detail how to harvest the reagents without killing the tiny humanoid plants which produce them. In this narrative, mandrakes are shown as screaming plants, much as they appear in Terran mythology, although the sound of a mandrake's wail is merely irritating and is not lethal.[3]


  1.  "Mandrake". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  2.  DalTXColtsFan's Ultima IV (NES) WalkthroughUltima IV.
  3. Tanaka, Yuko. Quest of the Avatar (Ultima IV). JICC: August 29, 1989. Pages 116-119.

Britannian Reagents
Britannian Black PearlBlood MossGarlicGinsengMandrake RootNightshadeSpider SilkSulfurous Ash
Serpent Isle Reagents
Serpent Isle (SI) Blood SpawnSerpent ScalesWorm Heart
Pagan Reagents
Necromancy (VIII) BlackmoorBloodBoneDirtExecutioner's HoodWood
Sorcery (VIII) BrimstoneDaemon BonesObsidianPig IronPumiceVolcanic Ash
Thaumaturgy (VIII) Bat WingDragon BloodEye of NewtSerpent Scales
Other Reagents
Alchemy (UO) Luminescent FungiCaptured EssenceParasitic PlantsEgg
Mysticism (UO) BoneDragon BloodDaemon BonesFertile Dirt
Necromancy (UO) Bat WingDaemon BloodGrave DustNox CrystalPig Iron
Shamanism (SE) ChocolatlPindeYopo
Spellweaving (UO) Arcane Focus