From this morning’s Coffee with a Codex, we ran across an illustration of a mandrake—yes! the very same plant you’ve probably heard of from the Harry Potter books and movies. Complete with a man covering his hears for fear of dying from the cries.
In one superstition, people who pull up this root will be condemned to hell, and the mandrake root would scream and cry as it was pulled from the ground, killing anyone who heard it. Therefore, in the past, people have tied the roots to the bodies of animals and then used these animals to pull the roots from the soil.
—Wikipedia citing John Gerard (1597). “Herball, Generall Historie of Plants”. Claude Moore Health Sciences Library. Archived from the original on 2012-09-01.