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A Popular Myth During The Middle Ages Said This Plant Could Actually Grow Living Lambs

Kelli - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

Life for people in the Middle Ages contained many difficulties that we can only imagine today. With their lack of technology and limited knowledge of the wider world, Medieval Europe produced some downright bizarre beliefs and customs.

For instance, a popular myth of the Middle Ages was that there was a plant that could grow living lambs.

The legend of the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary is believed to have originated in a vast region of Europe and Central Asia that was once known as Tartary.

It likely began in the 14th century, thanks to accounts from merchants and travelers who ventured into the foreign land. The creature appeared in the writings of Sir John Mandeville, a 14th-century explorer.

According to medieval texts, there were two versions of the Vegetable Lamb. The first was described as a plant that grew little newborn lambs inside its pods.

The other was described with a lamb hovering above the ground, attached by its belly button to a short stalk. The lamb could graze on the surrounding vegetation within their reach until it perished. Additionally, if the stem broke, the lamb would die.

People claimed that the Vegetable Lamb had delicate flesh that tasted like fish and blood that was sweet like honey.

Separating the lamb from its plant without killing it was nearly impossible. The stem needed to be severed in a very specific way, either with arrows or darts.

In the 19th century, a British naturalist named Henry Lee connected the legend of the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary to the Indian cotton-pod.

Kelli – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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