Myth of the Day:The Vegetable Lamb
The tale of the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary comes from the Middle Ages, a traveler’s tale from the far east. It’s full name was ‘Planta Tartarica Barometz’ – ‘barometz’ is the Tartar word for ‘lamb’. The fruit of the Vegetable Lamb was cotton, but travelers from Europe knew nothing about cotton in those times. They reasoned that the material was wool – a fabric they did know. The figured that since wool came from sheep, and that the plant was some kind of animal/plant. They thought that the puffs of cotton were tiny sheep attached to the plant by their navel. It is said that the plant bent to let the sheep graze on the grass beneath it, and that when all the grass was gone, the sheep dropped from the plant and ran off, the tree dying.
The myth of the Vegetable Lamb dates back to the 11th century in the Middle and Far East. It is a species of fern. The ‘body’ of the Vegetable Lamb is the root of the plant.