March 18, 2024

Magical Botany A

         Welcome to the April A to Z Blog Challenge!  My theme this year is the Botany of the Realms of Imagination, in which I share a few of the magical plants of folklore, fairy tale, and fantasy.  You can find the Master List of participating A to Z blogs here, where you can explore all the other varied topics my fellow bloggers are writing about.
        I have three plants to start us off on A, and they represent one traditional herb plus two very different flavors of modern fantasy.
        First is Audrey II, the carnivorous monster plant from “Little Shop of Horrors.”  The version most people are familiar with is the musical made into a movie in 1986.  According to the musical, Audrey II (who is named after its owner’s love interest) is an alien species that colonizes planets in order to feed on their inhabitants and ultimately destroy them.  Described as a cross between a Venus fly trap and an avocado, its ever-growing pod opens to a huge mouth with vicious teeth, and the plant feeds on blood and eventually human flesh.  When mature it also speaks (and sings) in English, and is, in fact, quite clever and conniving, getting people to provide its food for it.
        Our second plant of the day comes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earthAthelas, also known as Kingsfoil, may be just the antidote you need when anthropophagus aliens start growing in your neighborhood.  The sweet-smelling herb was brought to Middle-earth by the wise and noble people of old, but after many centuries its healing properties had been forgotten by most people and the lore was considered a mere nursery rhyme.  Athelas is especially efficacious when administered by the true king, and it’s the only cure for the Black Breath, which is poisoning by a Ringwraith.  The name means “beneficial leaf” in Sindarin.
        And finally, to head off in yet a third direction, we have aglaophotis, an herb with a very long and mysterious history.  The first century Greek pharmacologist Dioscorides mentioned aglaophotis, which he said was used for warding off demons, witchcraft, and fever.  An Herbal of 1597 says its seeds shine in the night like a candle.  On the other hand, according to 1977’s occult grimoire Simon Necronomicon by Peter Levenda, the plant calls up dark forces, rather than repelling them.  This is not an insignificant difference of opinion!
        The moral of these plants is that you absolutely want to know how to definitively identify what’s growing in your garden.  The little details make a big difference.  Gardening tip of the day: root up the noxious plants when they’re small, or they really may take over the world.
        This may be the place to confess that I lovingly cherish a Venus fly trap.  Here she is!  But don’t worry - I don’t feed her blood (or indeed anything), and all she catches is little bugs.  Do you grow any unusual plants in your home or garden?

[Pictures: Feed Me - Audrey II, linocut by Jacob of Low Road Press (Image from Low Road Press);

Kingsfoil, Athelas, design by Studio Pandemonia (Image from Pandemonia shop on RedBubble);

Aglaophotis (the role of Aglaophotis is actually being played today by Paeonia Foemina Altera), wood block print from Florum et coronarium odoratarumque by Rembert Dodoens, 1568 (Image from Biodiversity Heritage Library);

Venus fly trap, photo by AEGN, 2024.]


Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

This is fun, and I love it, but as every year I wonder why you do not simply pre-scedule these posts instead of publishing them ahead of time. I always forget to come back and read on the proper day, and I get messed up inside by reading the "wrong letters".

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Charlotte, I always post links to the correct letter on the correct day, so that shouldn't mess you up! Just follow the link and ignore the rest! =)
And I just prefer slow and steady to either having to come up with content for March at the same time as prepping April or having my blog go dead for a month and then throw too much content all at once. Sorry!

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

Look at that pretty fly trap! I absolutely approve. Also, I still love this theme. And I need to watch Little Shop of Horrors sometime...
Happy A to Z!!

The Multicolored Diary

Random Musings said...

I loved The Little Shop of Horrors. Great start!

Kristin said...

I used to have my garden under control as far as evil plants went. Last year it seemed as though poison ivy is taking over this yard. And the illiagnus waves around like triffids.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Great post. Audrey II is the one I recognised immediately from the image :-)

Ronel visiting for A: My Languishing TBR: A
Abominable Wraiths

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Audrey II is definitely a diva! lol
Kristin, beware, because of course the triffids are coming...

JazzFeathers said...

Athelas, yayyy!!! Starting off with something Tolkien can only bring you good fortune ;-)

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

JazzFeathers, I'd certainly rather have athelas than Audrey!