Tough Travels: Unique Flora

tough travelsSo I’m participating in this week’s Tough Travels meme again – hosted by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn, this is one great way to explore Fantasyland and create lists, YAY! Don’t forget to go and check out what other participating bloggers have put on their lists – my tbr expands every week because of them! :)

This week’s going to be cool, I can tell. We’re off to Fantasyland in search of UNIQUE FLORA: If you know a plant that is either not on Earth, or doesn’t act the same way in Fantasyland as it does on Earth, then you can consider it unique. Have fun. Thank you, Nathan, so I shall.

Let me just say here that I considered doing the entire list based on the Harry Potter novels. I think there’s a compendium of the magical plants out there somewhere (I don’t have it), but there are so many I remembered immediately. For the sake of diversity, however, I only chose the best ones.

  • Gillyweed from HP. There is NO WAY IN HELL you would get me to eat that. It’s described as similar to rat’s tails which I translate to “looks like worms” and I’d rather hold my breath for an hour than eat that, seriously. EW.
  • The Whomping Willow from HP. That is one nasty-tempered tree. I completely understand that it holds a grudge against Harry and Ron, seeing as how they crashed the flying car into it.
  • mandrake_harry_potter

    My thoughts exactly, Ronald.

    Mandrake/Mandragora from HPThey look like ugly babies with leaves attached, their scream can knock you dead (or unconscious if you’re lucky) and they can be stewed and made into a potion that heals the victims of petrification. Still, I’d rather keep them out of my garden.

  • Snozzcumbers from The BFG by Roald Dahl. I don’t know that these are magical in any way but I remember the BFG eating them with considerable reluctance – they were the only alternative for a giant who didn’t want to munch on little kids. I actually remember them as “smrkumare”, because I only read this in the Slovenian translation. I have the English edition at home and will be reading it soon.
  • Athelas/kingsfoil and pipe weed from The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Athelas is a healing plant that counteracts the evil Nazgul wounds (and black breath? I forgot all about that.) and is used to heal Frodo, Merry, Eowyn and Faramir. And probably a bunch of other people, too. Pipe weed is like tobacco but everyone’s mighty relaxed when they’re puffing on their pipes, so I suspect a different type of plant entirely. I wanted to include the ents but I strongly suggest you think twice before calling them simple plants because they might squish you like an orc.
  • The weirwood trees from ASOIAF by George R. R. Martin. I liked these old trees very much, they seem so mysterious and wonderful, what with their red leaves and bone-white bark. They also remind me of Mother Willow (minus the cute raccoon).


Which weird plant have I fogotten? What would you add to my list?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

  • Bob Milne

    Ah, the Whomping Willow – good pick!

    • Thanks, Bob :) I wouldn’t want to have it in my backyard but it’s pretty freaking majestic.

  • bookwraiths

    We both called the mandrakes. Cool. :)

    • Yeah, they’re fascinating in a slightly disgusting way, right?

  • Laura @ Half-Strung Harp

    Yay for the Whomping Willow! I had that too. I really wish I’d done your idea of having an entirely HP-based list – Mandrakes, Whomping Willow, Gillyweed, Devil’s Snare, Mimbulus Mimbletonia . . . :D

    Awesome call with Kingsfoil, too! And Weirwood. Great list!

    • Rowling did half the job for this list, really. I mean, Herbology lessons alone could yield so many examples, but then there are all the other cool plants. I think Rowling has to be a closet gardener or something :)
      Thanks for stopping by, as always, Laura!

  • I didn’t even think of Harry Potter when I was coming up with my list, for some reason. There are certainly lots of examples in those books!

    • Yeah, HP is a treasure trove in this regard. Those books show up most weeks, actually, so very many tropes!

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    The Whomping Willow! That’s a great one!
    I’ve always found it too funny for words… :-)

    • Funny? Gah, I wouldn’t want to get whipped by that tree! :)

  • You are so right about Harry Potter. I think in some cases I don’t remember books well enough to be able to recall specific flora from them… but Harry Potter I reread so much over the years that I remember everything, from mimbulus mimbletonia to dirigible plums!

    • I think I could graduate in most HP subjects, I’ve read it so many times ;) But dirigible plums!! We should do a Luna homage or something. She’s awesome (it was her with the plums, right?).

      • Yeah, Luna!! You could probably make an entire list just with strange flora that Luna mentions, actually. She’s the best.

        • Freshwater plimpies! Nargles! :)

  • Lynn Williams

    I’m loving the lists this week. Great call with the Whomping Willow and Mandrake. I would totally eat Gillyweed – yeah, it looks like overboiled worms or something, but, swimming underwater!! Come on. Now, where can I get me some gillyweed – do you think they sell it at the local shop??
    Lynn :D

    • Uhm I think it’s a Mediterranean plant, Gillyweed, so I can probably hook you up, seeing as it’s quite near to where I live. :)

  • Every time I see the Whomping Willow on a post I feel like saying, “I love everyone in this bar!” It’s my favorite and I’m so glad to see it on so many lists. LOL.

    • Harry Potter is the best for these lists. Seriously, I don’t think a week has gone by since I started doing these lists when someone doesn’t find a HP reference. I’m still on the fence on whether this is a good thing or not :)

  • Ah ents… and those are just the male ents. The females are even more dangerous.

    • Right! Another example of disappeared female characters from that book :/ Didn’t the ents lose them or something?

      • Yes, I can’t remember the specifics, but the I seem to recall that the entwives had disappeared, or at least gone elsewhere.

  • Ents didn’t even cross my mind. Which is kind of shocking. Bad me, bad.

    • They popped up on a number of lists this week but I’m still not sure they should be included…

  • I didn’t realize there were so many from Harry Potter. Could probably fill an entire list just with stuff from that series!


    • Yep! Rowling does plants and creatures well :)

  • Windsprite

    Gillyweed? What? How comes that I don’t even remember that after reading about it? Something must be wrong :P

    Roald Dahl makes me think of the Giant Peach that actually is unique Flora too… but I didn’t remember it either :D

    I was so much about the Ents that kingsfoil and pipe weed totally slipped my mind… but even if they’re not plants, they are called “tree guardians” so they definitely have something to do with plants :D

    • Gillyweed is the disgusting stuff Harry had to swallow in Book 4 in order to breathe underwater during the Triwizard Tournament, remember? EWWW!

      Yeah I saw the Giant Peach on another list this week, such a great reference! :)

      • Windsprite

        Oh, then it’s the stuff I called “Dianthus”…

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Love the weirwoods. :) And The BFG is my son’s favorite book! :) Great picks!

    • Thanks, Lisa!
      I can’t wait to start reading Dahl with my son – but we’re years away from that yet, I think! (He’s 7 months now.) :)

  • I couldn’t think of any of these, despite knowing most of them! I think my brain just doesn’t store things by theme! Good picks.

    • Ugh, I almost lost this comment. Ever since I installed Disqus, things look better and people don’t have to do maths anymore, but I’m still learning.
      Anyway – thanks for dropping by! I’ve had a lot of help from the other fantasy-reading person in our household so I don’t always come up with these on my own :)