Monday, June 4, 2007

Vegetable Lamb of Tartary

My new favorite mythical animal:

Ever since the 5th century BCE, travelers made reports of half-plant, half-sheep growths. The lamb would hatch from a melon and was suspended from the plant (or leashed to it) by an umbilical vine. After grazing as much as possible from surrounding plants, the lamb would either die of starvation or gnaw itself free. Its blood tasted of honey!

A convenient explanation for cotton, according to this Wikipedia article, the real-life inspiration for the vegetable lamb turned out to be a fern of the "Dicksonia" genus, which has furry roots/stems. Reminds me of the rabbit foot fern my mom kept in the dining room when I was growing up - though I never made the "sheep" connection.

Read more here.

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