Photo courtesy of Pedro Freitas
I love a good story about mythological creatures. But mythological plants don’t get nearly as much attention.
Remember the scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when they have to repot the crying mandrake plants? That particular tale has been circulating since long before J.K. Rowling picked up the myth.
Take a look at the story of the mandrake, as well as several other weird plants from mythology…
Hungry grass is a plant from Irish mythology. There are two stories about the origin of the grass. One says that regular grass can be cursed by the presence of a corpse that was not granted Last Rites. The other version tells that hungry grass was planted by malicious faeries.
Either way, the legend agrees that any person who walks on the cursed grass will be doomed to a lifetime of insatiable hunger.
The story of the fern flower, or Chervona Ruta, comes from Slavic mythology. It is said to be a magical plant that blooms only on the night of the summer solstice. If you find it and pick it, you will receive good luck.
The stories say that those who have found this flower have received things like wealth, fame, and even the ability to understand what animals are saying.
Beware, though. The myth also says the fern flower, though not evil itself, is guarded by evil spirits who exact a price on the finder.
The vegetable lamb may actually be a misunderstood cotton plant. However, the tale of this Central Asian plant that grew fully grown sheep instead of flowers was told across Western Europe throughout the Middle Ages and up to the 17th century.
Cotton was relatively uncommon in Europe at this time, and Europeans spread the tale that these sheep flowers were used to make clothes.
The Madagascar tree is one of the scarier plants in mythology. A 19th century German explorer, Carl Liche, made up a story that he had seen a religious ceremony in Madagascar where a tribe sacrificed a man by feeding him to a man-eating tree. The hoax of its existence continued to spread, and the myth of man-eating plants became common in science fiction and adventure stories in the 20th century.
The physical description of the tree actually sounds a lot like a giant Venus fly trap with tentacles rather than branches. Of course, real fly trap plants can’t do so much as bite a finger. Sometimes we carry them for sale at Indoor Cultivator, and we haven’t lost a customer to them yet.
Mandrake actually is a real plant. But it has quite a mythology built up around it. It features in stories of witchcraft going back thousands of years. And it took a clever magic user to gain access to its power. That’s because according to the myth, the mandrake root screams when someone digs it up, and its scream kills anyone within hearing range.
If you’re looking for interesting plants to spice up your own garden tales, we often carry exotic plant species in our store in Fairview Heights, IL. Recently, we’ve had Voodoo lilies, Life Saver plants, and pink quills. Find their photos on our Instagram.