April 15, 2024

Magical Botany O

         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 selection of the magical plants of folklore, fairy tale, and fantasy.  You can find all my fellow A to Z bloggers on the Master List of participating blogs here.
        Obliviax is a kind of black moss that steals memories from intelligent creatures.  It especially favors the memories of wizards and other spell-casters.  It can then use those memories to form a little moss offshoot in the form of the victim, and this mossling can cast any spells that the victim had memorized.  However, if your memories are stolen, it is possible to regain them by eating the moss, although eating the moss may also make you very ill for a while, as it is somewhat poisonous.  Obliviax grew in the Forgotten Realms (which seems appropriate for a plant that makes people forget), but may now be extinct.
        The men of
θ Orionis are another variety of tree-people, but this time they resemble saguaro cactuses.  Their feet are sort of like starfish, and reach out short armlets covered in suckers to grab the ground.  They migrate (slowly) according to the seasons.  You can read a little more about them and the author who discovered them in my prior post People of All Possible Forms.
        Our final plants for today are oracular trees, a class of beings rather than a specific species or individual.  As the name tells you, oracular trees are trees that can foretell the future, impart great wisdom, and answer arcane questions.  A particularly famous example is the paired Trees of the Sun and the Moon, which were encountered in India by Alexander the Great.  Unfortunately for him, the Tree of the Sun foretold his demise.  (The fruit of these trees also allowed the priests who tended them to live for 500 years.)
Then there were the oak trees consulted by druids in the British Isles.  It’s unclear whether these were special trees, or whether all oaks could be oracular to those with the druidic power to divine their speech.  There was a grove of oaks in Greece that were definitely special, and had the gift of prophecy.  They not only spoke while living, but a ship built of their wood could also deliver warnings about the future.
        Oracular trees of various sorts appear in folklore and mythology from around the world, so the moral of the day is that people have always sensed that trees, with their deep roots, long lives, and arms reaching to the heavens, must have great wisdom to impart, if we could only understand what they’re trying to tell us.  Gardening tip of the day: go ahead and talk to your plants.  You never know when they just might answer.
        We’re hardly more than halfway through the alphabet and we’ve already had a number of intelligent trees, tree spirits, and tree people (although some have been evil rather than benevolently wise).  If you could talk with a tree, what would you ask it?

[Pictures: Obliviax, illustration from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Monstrous Compendium V. 2, 1989 (Image from Internet Archive);

θ Orionis (actually Saguaro National Park) linocut print by AnneMarie Kuhns (Image from the artist’s Etsy shop LovePlusLino);

Trees of the Sun and the Moon, illumination from manuscript of the Alexander romance, 1444-5 (Image from the British Library).]


Donna B. McNicol said...

Loving the letter O choices you shared!


Kristin said...

The moss beings look scary. The cactus like beings remind me of triffids. My only experience of walking plants. Luckily I didn't actually experience them!

Lisa said...

I find those men of θ Orionis to be particularly fascinating! I can now imagine saguaro slowing moving, suctioning themselves to the ground.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks, Donna!

Kristin, I would definitely not want to have experience with the moss creature (or triffids), but the cactus-men could be cool.

Lisa, that would be a sight, wouldn't it! A whole tribe of them slowly inching along...