The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary

In the Middle Ages, certain texts described a plant that grew lambs as fruit. Of course, it was said to grow far away, in uncivilized sections of Europe and Central Asia.

Medieval texts described two varieties of the Vegetable Lamb – the first produced little naked, newborn lambs inside its pods, and the other had a life-sized lamb, with bones, blood and flesh, attached by its belly button to a short plant stem. This stem was extremely flexible, so allowed the tethered lamb to graze on the vegetation around it. Once all the vegetation was eaten, or if the stem broke, the lamb would die.

The origin of the myth has been traced all the way back to 436, first mentioned as Adne Hasadeh (meaning ‘lords of the field’) in a Jewish text called Talmud Ierosolimitanum, or Jerusalem Talmund, by Rabbi Jochanan. Like wolves, hunters loved the Vegetable Lamb for its delicate flesh that tasted like fish and blood as sweet as honey. But it was impossible to separate it from its plant unless the stem has been severed. And it needed to be severed specifically with arrows or darts.

Variations on the legend call the fruit a human, tethered to the plant with a stem like an umbilical cord -primitive humans who would try to kill you. Read more about the vegetable lamb at Scientific American. Link -via Ed Yong


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