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Mandragora autumnalis 

Scope: Global
Language: English
Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_onStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_offStatus_en_offStatus_cr_offStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Solanales Solanaceae

Scientific Name: Mandragora autumnalis Bertol.
Common Name(s):
French Pomme d’amour
English Autumn Mandrake, Love Apple
Spanish Berenguenilla, Mandrágora
Synonym(s):
Atropa mandragora L.
Mandragora haussknechtii Heldr.
Mandragora foemina Thell.
Mandragora microcarpa Bertol.
Mandragora officinarum L.
Mandragora autumnalis ssp. microcarpa (Bertol.) Nyman
Taxonomic Source(s): Valdés, B. 2012. Solanaceae. In: Euro+Med Plantbase - the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity. . Berlin Available at: http://www.emplantbase.org/home.html.
Taxonomic Notes:

Mandragora officinarum sec. auct. non L. is a misapplied name.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-02-08
Assessor(s): Rankou, H., Ouhammou, A., Taleb, M. & Martin, G.
Reviewer(s): Jury, S. & Allen, D.J.
Justification:

Mandragora autumnalis is largely distributed in southern and central Europe and in lands around the Mediterranean Sea and Middle East. It occurs from Portugal to Greece, Spain, Corsica, Italy, Sardinia and Sicily; in the Middle East is found in Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and in North Africa is found in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

Mandragora autumnalis is fairly common where it occurs but rare in some stations and varies in abundance from occasional to common. The overall trend of the population is stable, the estimated extent of occurrence and the estimated area of occupancy are large. In addition, the impact of the treats is low to medium in a small range and scope, which will not cause the populations to decline in the near future to a threatened category.

Therefore, Mandragora autumnalis is assessed globally as Least Concern (LC).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Mandragora autumnalis grows natively in southern and central Europe and in lands around the Mediterranean Sea and Middle East. In the Mediterranean region M. autumnalis occurs from Portugal to Greece, Spain, Corsica, Italy, Sardinia and Sicily; in the Middle East is found in Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and in North Africa is found in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco (Tutin et al. 1980, Greuter et al. 1984, Castroviejo et al. 1986, Valdés et al. 1987 and 2012, Flora-On 2014, Euro+Med 2015).

In Portugal, the plant is known from only five sites (Faro, Lagos, Almancil, Telhero and Beja (Sequeira et al. 2010, Flora-on 2014)),  whilst in Spain, the plant is frequent throughout the south of the country and occurs in Guadalquivir, Cazorla, Mágina Aljibe, Ronda, Axarquía provinces (Castroviejo et al. 1986, Valdés et al. 1987, Blanca et al. 2011). In France, M. autumnalis is present in Corsica only (Tela Botanica 2013). In Italy, the plant is known from Sardinia and Sicily (Pignatti 1982, Conti et al. 2005). In Greece, M. autumnalis is found on the mainland and in the East Aegean Islands and on Crete (Dimopoulos 2013).

In the Middle East, M. autumnalis is found in Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria; In Israel, M. autumnalis is found in Golan, Gallilee, Upper Jordan valley, northern valleys, Gilboa, Carmel, Samarian mountains, Samarian desert, Judean mountains, Sharon, Shefela and Northern Negev (Israeli Wildflowers 2015). In Turkey, M. autumnalis recorded from five sites in Anatolia (Mercin, Atayurt, Antalya, Mugla and Diclim; Davis 1965, Fakir and Özçelik 2009).

In Algeria, M. autumnalis known from four sites (Oued-el-Alleug, Rouïba, Mouzaïa, Kabylie (Battandier and Trabut 1888, Maire 1961, Quézel and Santa 1963)). In Tunisia, M. autumnalis is found in Mogods, Béja, Bordj Cedria and Fahs (Bonnet and Barratte 1896, Bouquet 1952, Pottier-Alapetite 1981, Le Floc'h and Boulos 2009). In Morocco, M. autumnalis occurs in four major floristic divisions: Mediterranean Cost (Al Hoceima, Ajdir and Nekkor), Rif (Tingitane Peninsula until Larache, Loukkos, Oud Laou, Tangier, Tazzeka, Taza Chefchaouen, Ouazzane, Ain Defali, Douyet, Fez, Bab Taza,  and Middle-West Rif), North Atlantic of Morocco (Maamora, Kenitra, Rharb, Middle Sebou, rural areas of Rabat and Casblanca, Tiflet, Sidi Allal El Bahraoui and Zaiane) and Middle Atlantic of Morocco (Doukkala, Abda, Casablanca to El Jadida, Cap Beddouza, Oualidia, Safi, Berrechid, Nouasser, Ben Slimane, Oum-Rabie, khourbiga, Mrizig, Zaouia Cheikh, Skhour Rehamna, Mechra Benabbou, Kella Serarhna and Sidi Zouine, Essaouira, Souss, Between Agadir and Sidi Ifin) (Jahandiez and Maire 1932, Maire 1961, Nègre 1961, Jackson and Berry 1979, Fennane et al. 1999, Benabid 2002, Valdés et al. 2002, Fennane and Ibn Tattou 2005, Taleb and Fennane 2008, Romo 2009, Dobignard and Chatelain 2010, Collin 2012).

The extent of occurrence (EOO) and the area of occupancy (AOO) are more than 20,000 km2 and 2,000 kmrespectivelyMandragora autumnalis is found up to 2,100 m altitude.

Countries occurrence:
Native:
Algeria; France (Corsica); Greece (East Aegean Is., Greece (mainland), Kriti); Israel; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna, Sicilia); Jordan; Lebanon; Morocco; Portugal; Spain (Baleares, Spain (mainland), Spanish North African Territories); Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia)
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):NoExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):2100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:

Mandragora autumnalis is largely distributed in the Mediterranean region and central Europe, common but rare in some stations and varies in abundance on from occasional to common. 

In Portugal, M. autumnalis is local and rare found only in five sites (Sequeira et al. 2010, Flora-On 2014). In Spain, M. autumnalis is common in the south of the country but uncommon in the rest of the country (Castroviejo et al. 1986, Valdés et al. 1987, Blanca et al. 2011). In France, M. autumnalis very local and rare, present in Corsica only (Tela Botanica 2013). In Italy, M. autumnalis is fairly rare with some scattered distributions in Sardinia and Sicily (Pignatti 1982, Conti et al. 2005). In Greece, M. autumnalis is fairly common with a dispersed distribution in eastern and western Greece, the East Aegean Island and Crete (Dimopoulos 2013). In the Middle East, M. autumnalis abundance varies from occasional to common (Israeli Wildflowers 2015). In Turkey, M. autumnalis very local and found only in five scattered sites (Davis 1965, Fakir and Özçelik 2009).

In Algeria, M. autumnalis fairly rare and local, found only in four sites (Battandier and Trabut 1888, Maire 1961, Quézel and Santa 1963). In Tunisia, M. autumnalis fairly common but local to four sites only (Bonnet and Barratte 1896, Bouquet 1952, Pottier-Alapetite 1981, Le Floc'h and Boulos 2009). In Morocco, M. autumnalis fairly common but local and varies in abundance from occasional to dominant in the coastal areas, Rif, Middle and North Atlantic of Morocco (Jahandiez and Maire 1932, Maire 1961, Nègre 1961, Jackson & Berry 1979, Fennane et al. 1999, Benabid 2002, Valdés et al. 2002, Fennane and Ibn Tattou 2005, Taleb and Fennane 2008, Romo 2009, Dobignard and Chatelain 2010, Collin 2012).

Mandragora autumnalis population size, density and habitats appears to be stable but declining in some regions. However, the overall trend of the population is stable.

Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Typical habitats include pastures, banks, fields, cultivated beds, mountain plain, river banks, pond margins, river beds, olive groves, clear undergrowth, ditches, woodlands clearings, low mountains pastures, woodland, waste ground, stony places,  coastal side, Mediterranean forest and occasionally found around stone tombs in cemeteries (Maire 1961, Nègre 1961, Pignatti 1982, Valdés et al. 1987 and 2012, Conti et al. 2005, Blanca et al. 2011, Collin 2012, Tela Botanica 2013, Flora-On 2014). 

Mandragora autumnalis is a non-woody perennial plant, grows in clay to calcareous sandy and medium loamy soils, stony habitats where conditions are sufficiently sheltered and irrigated, prefers wet to well drained soils and acidic or neutral deep soils,  grows in shaded to open habitats, flowers from March to April, the hermaphrodite flowers pollinated by insects and the species occurs in a humid to sub-arid climates (Battandier and Trabut 1888, Bonnet and Barratte 1896, Jahandiez and Maire 1934, Bouquet 1952, Jackson and Berry 1979, Tutin et al. 1980, Valdés et al. 1987, 2002, Benabid 2002, Aafi et al. 2005, Fakir and Özçelik 2009, Dobignard and Chatelain 2010, Collin 2012, Valdés 2012).

Systems:Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Historically, Mandragora autumnalis was know as a medicinal plant by the Assyrians and the Ancient Greeks, and was mentioned in texts by Dioscorides and Theophrastus as a potent narcotic. The fruits of this plan were used for treating fertility problems already in Biblical times and mentioned in the book of Genesis (30:14-22) and Solomon's Song of Songs (7:13). Mandragora autumnalis is very rich in atropine and the scopolamine that make it very toxic and dangerous. These alkaloids used separately in low doses are well known by the modern medicine, but in the antiquity it was not possible to separate them and their poisonous effects were added, getting to cause the death to that consumed its leaves, fruits or roots (Jackson and Berry 1973, Bekkouche 1992, Bellakhdar, 1997, Rimbau et al. 1999, Bekkouche et al. 2001).

The dried roots pounded into a powder of larger particles and sprinkled over pellets of bread eaten by women to gain weight and get fat. Mandragora autumnalis roots resemble either the male or the female body and used to cure ailments of that body. It used as a fertility herb, an aphrodisiac, pain-killing, anesthetic, soporific (sleep inducing), a powerful narcotic, emetic, sedative, and hallucinogen (Bouquet 1952, Boulos 1983, Bellakhdar et al. 1991, Bellakhdar 1997, Benchaabane and Abbad 1997, Bnouham et al. 2006, Sijelmassi 2011).

The fumigated dry leaves (smoked as a cigarette) posses beneficial action against asthma, cough, bronchitis and throat pains. The leaves are harmless and locally used as cooling poultice, to threat genital organs and women's diseases. There are many superstitions regarding its ability to attract demons and cure various illnesses including mental diseases. The fruits considered tasty and an intoxicating sweet odour and the roots contain poisonous alkaloids which should be approached with caution (Boulos 1983, Bellakhdar et al. 1991, Bellakhdar 1997, Benchaabane and Abbad 1997, Sijelmassi 2011). Mandragora autumnalis is also used as a poison for criminal purposes to stimulate long illness and to weaken the body without suspicious (Bellakhdar 1997). 

Toxicity: The fruits and the roots of Mandragora autumnalis are highly toxic and many deaths accidents were reported in Morocco especially from the children and shepherds who are attracted by the colour of the fruit and they use it for hallucinogen in their games. Other poisoning cases have also been caused by criminal purposes. Symptoms of poisoning appear after ingestion such us: dizziness, vomiting, severe abdominal pain, heaviness of the lower limbs, dry mouth and throat, dilated pupil, decreased visual sharpness, delusions, itching, burning feeling, headaches, cardiovascular disorders, heartbeat trouble, nervous system disorder, anxiety and coma leading to death in most cases. No specific pharmacological treatment for Mandragora autumnalis intoxication is yet available and current therapeutic approaches are only symptomatic (Jackson and Berry 1973, Bekkouche 1992, Bellakhdar 1997, Rimbau et al. 1999, Bekkouche et al. 2001).

Constituents: Mandragora autumnalis contains the powerful tropane alkaloids scopolamine, hyoscyamine, atropine, and mandragorine. Modern scientists identified a number of estrogen like substances and the alkaloid scopolamine in the fruits of this plant (Bellakhdar et al. 1991, Bekkouche 1992, Bekkouche et al. 2001, Bnouham et al. 2006).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Mandragora autumnalis is largely distributed, varies in abundance, the overall trend of the population is stable but some sub-populations are declining especially in North Africa and the border of its range due to numerous low to medium impact threats including; overgrazing, deforestation, habitat fragmentation, demographic pressure, tourism, collection practices and ruthless collection for domestic uses as a remedy or for national and international trade e.g. Morocco local markets prices 30-100 Dhs/kg (Barbero et al. 1990, Bellakhdar 1997, Blondel and Aronson 1999, Blondel and Medail 2009).

Mandragora autumnalis is threatened more generally by the direct and indirect impact of human activities such as leisure activities, infrastructure development, urbanisation and management activities (Benabid 2002, RBOSM 2008, Taleb and Fennane 2011).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

There are no conservation measures in place for Mandragora autumnalis. Although the threats are of low to medium impact in a small range and scope, the following actions are recommended to protect the species and its habitats where it is declining, especially North Africa and the border of its range; 

• Protection of the species sites from habitat loss and fragmentation, ruthless collection, and overgrazing. 

• Improve local practices of collecting the species and fencing the vulnerable sites.

• Cultivated specimens should be used in the trade and medicinal uses instead of wild plants.

• Protection of living individuals of the species through legislation and legal protection which ban the species being picked or dug up.

• Pastoral, silvo-pastoral improvement and the establishment of natural sanctuaries.


Citation: Rankou, H., Ouhammou, A., Taleb, M. & Martin, G. 2015. Mandragora autumnalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T53785790A53798742. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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