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Lamb-Growing Plants- The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary

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posted on May, 17 2009 @ 01:53 PM
The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary originated from stories told by travelers in the middle ages. Also called Agnus scythicus, Planta Tartarica Barometz, Scythian Lamb, or Borametz, it has been mentioned in many tales over the ages, as well as in CD cover artwork and video game references in this modern age.

The mythical idea is that it is a plant which grows lambs, attached to the plant by an umbilical cord, and the lambs walk around the plants.

The fable of the Lamb of Tartary, variously entitled "The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary," "The Sythian Lamb," and "The Borometz," or "Borametz" is a curious one. This "lamb-plant" is represented as springing from a seed like that of a melon, but rounder, and supposedly cultivated by natives of the country where it grew. The lamb was contained within the fruit or seedcapsule of the plant, which would burst open when ripe to reveal the little lamb within it. The wool of this little lamb was described as being "very white."3

When planted, it grew to a height of two and a half feet and had a head, eyes, ears, and all the parts of the body of a newly born lamb. It was rooted by the navel in the middle of the belly, and devoured the surrounding herbage and grass.4

Generally, the consensus is that the myth refers to the root of a very specific sort of fern-like plant, or that the legend itself was an explanation for cotton. During the 1700s, everyone wanted to find one of these and tons of people went in search for them. Some people came back with hoaxes.

Sloane identified his specimen as being constructed of a portion of one of the arborescent ferns (Dicksonia) of which there are about 35 species, some of which grow in the United States and one of which bears the name to this day of Dicksonia borametz. Sloane exposed his specimen as the stem or rootlet of a fern, artificially and cleverly manipulated to look like a lamb, thus dealing what appeared to be a crushing blow to this fable.

Both botanists and poets focused on the lambs in their studies and writings, but none were ever discovered. So, cotton plant it is.

Much wonder is made of the Boramez,[2] that strange plant-animal or vegetable Lamb of Tartary, which Wolves delight to feed on, which hath the shape of a Lamb, affordeth a bloody juyce upon breaking, and liveth while the plants be consumed about it. And yet if all this be no more, then the shape of a Lamb in the flower or seed, upon the top of the stalk, as we meet with the forms of Bees, Flies and Dogs in some others; he hath seen nothing that shall much wonder at it.

Cibotium barometz is the type of fern of which the root is thought to possibly be the source of the legend.

Other resources:

So what do you think? The root doesn't really grow out of the fern the way the lamb is described to.

posted on May, 17 2009 @ 03:02 PM
Reminds me of a type of fungus parasite in the amazon that infects and controls an ant to take it to 'X' location before killing it and using the nutrients of the ant's body to grow its mushrooms.

There's different types of fungus parasites for different types of insects, so a population of insects can never get out of control in the abundance of the rain forest.

It annoys me how olde tyme explorers often exaggerated what they saw.

posted on May, 17 2009 @ 03:11 PM
reply to post by star in a jar

There is a similar parasite, I believe it is a type of worm, which does a similar "zombifying" job on snails.

It is kind of annoying, but they didn't know much better. The weird thing about the Lambs of Tartary is that we don't know whether it was the cotton or the ferns that the tales were referring to. Obviously, scientifically, lambs cannot grow from plants.

But, really, what plant are they talking about?

posted on May, 18 2009 @ 04:34 PM
Ah, the Barbary Lamb. A good folk tale, but not a valid crypozoological entity. I would like to believe in it, but it hasn't even been seen in hundreds of years. Even if it was real, it's gone now.

posted on May, 18 2009 @ 04:39 PM
reply to post by ShadeWolf

This is also the forum for mythical beasts. Why not, too, mythical plants?

posted on Dec, 2 2009 @ 01:46 PM
reply to post by ravenshadow13

or mythical plants which grow mythical beasts?

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