March 25, 2024

Magical Botany C

         Welcome to the #AtoZChallenge !  My theme this year is the Botany of the Realms of Imagination, in which I share a selection of the magical plants of folklore, fairy tale, and fantasy.  You can view the Master List of participating blogs here, and see all the varied and wonderful topics my fellow bloggers are sharing with the world this year.  As for me, C is for…
        Chervona ruta is a plant that can be found in Ukrainian folklore, and the name is literally “red rue.”  If you’re a gardener or herbalist this tells you immediately that there’s something special going on, because the flowers of ordinary rue are always yellow.  For a brief moment on the eve of the summer solstice, the chervona ruta flowers turn red, and if you pick them you will have good fortune, especially in love and wealth.  (However, the flowers may be guarded by evil spirits, so beware!)  It’s the romantic connection of chervona ruta that made it the subject of an extremely popular Ukrainian song, the most popular version of which is sung by Sofia Rotaru.  You can listen to a performance here.
        Coco de mer is a special kind of palm tree that grows at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, and the great bird garuda (which may be related to the roc) lives in those trees.  When the nuts “fall” off the trees, they float up to the surface of the sea.  If the whole tree rises up, the garuda may  come, too, and eat any sailors who happen to be in the vicinity.  On the other hand, the nuts themselves, which are the largest in the plant world and look like a woman’s midsection, possess amazing healing powers and are an antidote to all poison.  In 1743 it was discovered that coco de mer trees can grow not just at the bottom of the ocean, but also on islands in the Seychelles, where the male trees uproot themselves on stormy nights and make passionate love to the female trees.  It is unwise (as well as impertinent) to watch this - you may go blind, or even die.
        I will also mention Chikorita, Cacnea, Cherubi, Carnivine, and Chespin as representative examples of “grass type” Pokémon, which are those with botanical characteristics.  All of these plant-animals are capable of independent locomotion, and, like other Pokémon, they can be captured by throwing a special ball trap at them, and then trained to battle each other.  Most of them can evolve into larger forms if fed enough candy, but I think they’re generally much cuter before evolution.  Personally, I find Chikorita and Chespin the most adorable.
        The moral of the first two plants is that the florists are right: flowers speak the language of love!  But mostly they just want to speak it to each other.  Gardening tip of the day: the sensitive gardener will give their plants a little privacy from time to time.  Who knows, they may propagate better if you do!
        What plants or flowers seem the most romantic to you?

[Pictures: Chervona Ruta, adapted from a hand-colored wood block from De historia stirpium commentarii insignes by Leonhart Fuchs, 1542 (Image from Cambridge Digital Library);

Coco-de mer, watercolor from the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings, c. 1803-1818 (Image from Roots Collection of Singapore);

Chikorita, Chespin, and Other Assorted Grass-type Pokémon (Images from Pokémon Go).]


D Kai Wilson-Viola said...

What an awesome post :)
I've got a book of herbalism for roleplaying games based on the real world and this looks like it fits right in.
I'm also an author, doing the AtoZ of me and my inspirations.
The A to Z of creative inspiration - D Kai Wilson-Viola

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks for stopping by, D Kai. I suppose most magical plants are based on the real world - but I try to avoid anything too realisitic! lol ;)

Amelia said...

What an interesting theme! I struggle with naming plants and have only begun to be really conscious about identifying plants properly!

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks for commenting, Amelia! In the real world I'm certainly not a full botanist, but I do like to know what I'm looking at.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...


Ronel visiting for C: My Languishing TBR: C
Unsettling Changelings

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

One of the things I do enjoy a great deal in reading fantasy is when the author creates wonderful, fantastic plants and animals to populate their fictional world. Your blog post reminded me of that, because it's been a goodly while since I've read any fantasy, being busy with other things. Love the illustrations, too!

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Karen, I agree! I absolutely love visiting strange and wonderful worlds in fantasy.