All praise the Troupple King! Lord of Fruit and Fish! Long may his stem grow!
But did you know that there are other creatures like the Troupple King from Medieval folklore? An obsolete scientific classification of animals was the zoophyte, or animals that look like plants. Organisms such as sea anemones and the cordyceps fungus were categorized as zoophytes. But probably the most famous zoophyte was the legendary vegetable lamb of Tartary, or barometz.
The vegetable lamb was described in travelers’ tales as far back as the 14th century. They were described as miniature sheep that were attached via umbilical chord to a tall fern. The sheep would die if they were ever severed from their parent plant, and their wool was said to be extraordinarily soft. The only natural predators of the vegetable lamb were wolves and people; vegetable lamb meat was said to be very sweet, with their blood like honey. Sadly, however, the vegetable lamb inevitably died when the miniature sheep ate all the vegetation within reach.
There is some truth to the legend of the vegetable lam, though. The plant that the vegetable lambs grow from is the real-life Cibotium Barometz, a type of fern native to parts of China and southeast Asia. When the leaves are removed from part of the ferns wooly stem, it resembles a little lamb. As for the legendary soft fur of the vegetable lamb? Nothing more than cotton from India.
So here’s to the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, brother to the mighty Troupple King!