Among the most fantastic creatures ever invented is the ”vegetal lamb“. This static beast lives in the deserts of Tartary. The most recent mention is in Borges‘s Libro de los Seres Imaginarios, where, under the name of ”Borametz“, it is described as growing on a stalk, which is actually its umbilical cord. When it becomes mature, it eats everything around, as far as the cord allows it. It has blood, bones, and flesh like any normal lamb, except that when it finishes eating the grass and plants surrounding it, it dies of hunger (if not eaten by predators… as Borges tells us: ”los lobos se deleitan en devorar esos corderos vegetal“/wolves delight in devouring these vegetal lambs)…

Sir Thomas Browne describes it in his third volume of “Pseudodoxia Epidemica” (London, 1646). The biologist Henry Lee wrote a whole book about it: “The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary” (London, 1887). He thinks this lamb is the fruit of a plant, sprouting forward from melon-like seeds. Its blood tastes sweet like honey. Its wool is said to be used by the natives to make head coverings and other stupid articles of clothing.

Alas, it all comes to a visual illusion from the side of European travelers. Anyone who has seen cotton plants, with their white, furry upper part, will avoid this deception… and, of course, miss part of the magic.