As many Hogwarts students—especially those who’ve taken OWLs—know, a mandrake is a magical plant, the root of which is rather humanoid, and which lets out a potentially fatal cry. However, after being shown the Hogwarts Herbology exam records, we’ve discovered that many an exam-taking student mixed up a mandrake and a mangrove (a tree or shrub with tangly roots found in brackish, or semi-saline, water). And since reading the Quibbler makes you look cool, and teenagers always want to look cool, we figured we’d give our audience a little study help! So, here it is: The Amateur Herbologist’s Guide to Differences!
The mandrake, also known as mandragora, is a plant in the nightshade family. In contrast, the mangrove is of the genus “Rhizophora”, which is from the family Rhizophoraceae, which is a family of tropical or subtropical flowering plants. Confusing, right? Well, you’re in luck! You probably won’t need to know this for your exams. Just remember that the two are completely unrelated!
Branching off of that, mangroves are typically much, much larger than mandrakes. Keep in mind that mandrakes will most likely never exceed one and a half feet in length, whereas mangroves are trees! There are also three variations of the mandrake species: Mandragora Offiniarum being the main one—simply referred to as Mandrake; Mandragora Autumnalis, which is smaller and called the Womandrake; and Mandragora Turcomanica, which is nearly extinct and only native to Turkey and some parts of Iran. There is also an unrelated species called the American Mandrake with far fewer medicinal properties). In contrast, the mangrove is simply the mangrove, which is all it will ever be.
Mandrakes have many medicinal properties, and are an ingredient in various potions such as the Mandrake Restorative Draught, useful in reviving those that have been Petrified. Mangroves, however, are simply trees and have pretty much no use whatsoever except providing a habitat for young animals in estuarine* environments!
Moving on—and this should be one of the last things you need to know to ace your exams—mangroves are benign. Mandrakes are not. Mandrakes, which are indeed similar to humans in that they have blood, look like little root-humans, and can even develop acne—well, to say the least, they’ve got some powerful windpipes! The cry of a baby mandrake can knock you out for a few hours. The adult’s scream? Fatal. Mangroves are completely mundane and harmless, making it almost a wonder anyone can get them confused!
These facts and details are sure to get you an O on your next Herbology test! There are, of course, more features to these plants than can be told in a few paragraphs, but the information we’ve provided here should suffice. You no longer need to live in fear of any random water-dwelling tree, thinking it could be lethally related to the mandrake. Now go get those good grades!
*Estuarine: an area made up of river mouths and/or deltas.