In Chamber of Secrets, it appears that Hogwarts is the only place in the entire country to get fresh mandrake juice to unpetrify the students/cat that were petrified by the Basilisk.

Wouldn't St Mungo's have had any, it being a hospital for magical maladies, whereas Hogwarts is just a school that happens to teach about herbology and have mandrakes growing? Is it that much of an unusual ingredient for the potion required?

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    How did they cure Nick? He's a ghost. Surely ghosts can't drink potion.
    – user12777
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 1:11
  • @Dina That question has already been asked with several answers on this site here.
    – NominSim
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 2:14

1 Answer 1


It's not stated in the books -- besides, we later find out, a Basilisk -- what causes a person to become petrified. The staff is aware that students and Mrs. Norris have been petrified, but they simply don't know what's causing it. It doesn't say in any canon source I'm aware of that there are other creatures, potions, or objects that cause petrification. Before the end of the book, the only persons who know there's a Basilisk in the castle are Harry, Ron, and Hermione (who herself becomes petrified). All that aside, each petrification was completely accidental. The gaze of the Basilisk usually causes death.

Had Mrs. Norris and some or all of the students died, I suspect Dumbledore would have immediately been reminded of Myrtle, who died by "Slytherin's monster," at the hand of Tom Riddle (Dumbledore never believed in Hagrid's guilt regarding the Chamber of Secrets). I wager Dumbledore would have then put two and two together and remembered that Myrtle's death was connected to Tom Riddle, and he would have subsequently made the connection to Voldemort during Harry's era.

Anyhow, it's unclear how common petrification is. Not all hospitals stock every remedy for every medical problem; sometimes they have to order them in.

It doesn't appear that the Mandrake is a particularly unusual plant. The HP Lexicon indicates it's used in "most antidotes."

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    Hmm, interesting answer, especially the link - thanks! It makes it even more odd, not being an unusual plant and being used for most antidotes - you'd have thought somewhere in the country would had some near maturity. Perhaps the mandrakes have to be freshly 'harvested' for the juice to be beneficial enough, and they only "ripen" in summertime. That at least would make some sense as to its apparent rarity the rest of the year.
    – Nick Shaw
    Commented May 20, 2012 at 20:57
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    @NickShaw - I agree! Mandrakes something that would seem to be difficult to procure. Perhaps their juice is only good for a small window of time? We also know that the juice comes from an adult Mandrake, so maybe the maturation cycle is 9 months or so, like you mention. :) Commented May 21, 2012 at 1:00
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    @Slytherincess "It appears St. Mungo's did not have Mandrake juice, or else Hogwarts would have obviously used it" -- You can do better than that!
    – TGnat
    Commented May 21, 2012 at 13:35
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    @Slytherincess - Dumbledore speaks Parseltongue? How did I not know that? :) Which book is that referenced in?
    – Nick Shaw
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 8:24
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    @NickShaw - It's actually referenced in an interview with J.K. Rowling: the-leaky-cauldron.org/2007/7/30/… and is confirmed at the Lexicon: hp-lexicon.org/wizards/dumbledore.html#Skills. Let me correct myself, though: it appears he understands Parseltongue; I don't know if that means he speaks it as well, but the way it's written it sounds like he just understands it. Nevertheless, I don't know why he didn't at least hear the Basilisk. :) Commented May 22, 2012 at 13:20

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