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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
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.
Much wonder is made of the Boramez, 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.