April 29, 2024

Magical Botany Y

         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.  We’re getting close to the end now, but it’s not too late to check out my fellow A to Z bloggers on the Master List of participating blogs here.
        Today’s plants span worlds and time, so we’d better get right to it…
        Yellow musk creeper is another dangerous plant from the world of Dungeons & Dragons.  Its bright yellow orchid-like flowers waft out a heavy, musky scent that both attracts prey and dazes it.  The plant then burrows into the mind of the victim and plants its bulbs in their brain.  When the bulbs sprout, they reanimate the victim as a zombie.  However, if you can collect the petals of yellow musk creeper you can use them as an ingredient in Potions of Superior Healing.
        Another yellow-flowered plant, beneficial instead of monstrous, is yao grass.  Actually, there are two types of yao grass mentioned in the Classic of Mountains and Seas, and despite having the same name, they don’t seem very closely related.  The yao grass of Guyao Mountain has yellow flowers, lush leaves, and a stringy-looking fruit like cooked spaghetti.  It’s a powerful love potion, and anyone who eats it will attract the love of others.  The yao grass of Taishi Mountain, on the other hand, has white flowers and black fruit, and its magical power is to bestow mental clarity and prevent confusion.
        We can’t leave Y without mentioning Yggdrasil, the world tree (see W) of Norse mythology.  Yggdrasil is an ash tree whose branches reach up into the heavens while its three roots reach to wells in the different worlds of humans, giants, and Hel.  The gods hold council around Yggdrasil, and Odin once sacrificed himself to himself on its branches.  It has the classic eagle above and snake below, but also has a squirrel that runs between them, and deer that browse its branches, so that (like everything in Norse mythology) it’s all about the suffering.
        Halfway around the world, Y is also for ya’axché, the world tree of the Maya.  Ya’axché is a ceiba tree (aka kapok), that grows not just as the axis mundi at the center of the world, but also with another tree at each of the four cardinal directions.  Sometimes its trunk is actually a crocodile, reminiscent of the distinctive thick thorns on a ceiba’s trunk.
        The moral of yellow musk creeper is that ’tis better to plant than to be planted in.  The gardening tip of the day is that you can try coyote urine, electric fencing, or all manner of other pest deterrents to protect your world tree, but those darn deer and squirrels will always find a way!
        Which kind of yao grass would you choose?

[Pictures: Yellow Musk Creeper, illustration from Wizards of the Coast, 2017 (Image from Worldanvil);

Yao Grass, collaged by AEGN using illustrations from Honzo Zufu by Iwasaki Tsunemasa, ca. 1830-44 (Images from Library of Congress);

Yggdrasil, illumination possibly by Sigurður Gíslason from Langa Edda, late 17th century (Image from Wikimedia Commons);

Yggdrasil, illustration from Prose Edda, English translation by Oluf Olufsen Bagge, 1847 (Image from Wikimedia Commons);

Ya’axché, detail from Tepantitla Mural, Teotihuacan, ca. 500 (Image from Historical Mexico).]


Kristin said...

I had good luck with fencing inside my fenced yard with a few dogs patroling the perimeter. Just a fence later worked fine too. I don't think they would work here but I have no garden due to too many trees.

The yao grass of Taishi Mountain sounds like something I could use.

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

I've had luck keepin out deer with my fence, but not the squirels. We share the nuts ;)
I'd much prefer the yao grass bestowing mental clarity and preventing confusion. We need more of this around, and love potions seem to always make troubles one way or another.

martine said...

Hi Anne, thanks so much for your visit. I have so enjoyed reading through your posts, utterly fascinating, many I have come across, and many more I have not.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

If you want to keep out both deer and squirrels, you have to fence all the way around in all three dimensions -- and it's not easy to entirely enclose a world tree!

I agree with those who pick the yao grass of Taishi. I could certainly use some of that. As for the other, enough people already love me! ;)

Thanks for stopping by!

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

When I saw the yellow creeper, it reminded me of those in Jumanji that took over the house...

Ronel visiting for Y: My Languishing TBR: Y
Cursed Werewolves