Lesson 2) Snake in the Garden I – What is going on in our planet?


Herbology 501

Professor Tudor



Year 5 – Politics, Theory, and Research

Lesson 2 - Snake in the Garden I – What is going on in our planet?

“Nature is a book, opened wide for all to read and to learn, to savor and celebrate. It tells a unique story; it unfolds a profound mystery; it relates an extraordinary harmony and balance, which are interdependent and complementary.”

~ The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Lesson Objectives

  • To give students a clear awareness of the major changes occurring in the earth’s climate and environment
  • Students should be able to recognize some of the repercussions of the changes
  • Students should be aware of some of the causes of the climate changes as well as have a working knowledge of how what is going on with the planet relates to other issues of social justice


Optional Additional Reading

·  VIDEO (3:30 minutes without the credits) Why is climate change happening? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EWOrZQ3L-c

·  Personal Testimonies Fruits come at unusual times of the year, sometimes impacting cultural practices.  Flowers bloom at different times of the year as well.” http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/problems/people_at_risk/personal_stories/witness_stories/?193408/Climate-Witness-Trisha-Kehaulani-Watson-USA and others can be found at http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/problems/people_at_risk/personal_stories/witness_stories/


Changes to the Environment

Climate Change is a major topic that is often ignored in both muggle and wizarding society. This is quite unfortunate, because it means that there is twice as much not being done. This video, which is two and a half minutes long, does a good job of explaining what will happen if the world warms up by two degrees to a scale wizards and muggles alike can understand. A two degree warming is the beginning of what climate change is, and should be recognized before we continue our lesson. Why don’t we all watch it together? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GjrS8QbHmY

       *Note: the forecasts are estimates because neither muggles nor wizards have a complete understanding of how the earth is going to respond to the changes


Why Should I Care?

Oh, how I wish I didn’t have to answer this question. By now, I am sure you are all tired of me bringing up how much the Gardening Effect is terrible and has a negative effect on Herbology, the world, and just about everything else! Alas, I bring it up again. Since you are all still sitting in my class I am going to trust that you at least have a good understanding of what the Gardening Effect is. If you are still struggling with the concept, do not hesitate to send me an e-owl as it will be very important for all continuing Herbology students to know the Gardening Effect, as it affects the entire field of Herbology. Anyways, a lot of people look at the issues going on in the environment, surmised under the term Climate Change, as a muggle issue and therefore have grand amounts of apathy towards it. This is a completely infantile view. Our worlds are super interconnected. The choices that muggles make affect us. It is easy to dismiss this because we can use magic to manipulate the choices of muggles; however, this is not always legal. We cannot cast the imperious curse on two thirds of Britain to ensure election results, and then rule their parliament. Actually, it is illegal to run for their parliament in general.

Effects of Magic on the Environment

The first matter is the fact that magic always leaves traces. There is not an entire lot of knowledge of the effects of using magic on environment; however, we know that magic does effect the environment as well as a little bit about how that happens. Basically magic impacts the environment through the usage of energy. It is not always possible for us to observe the immediate effects that the use of magic has caused. Certain wizards are particularly attune to sensing the presence of magic in the environment, such as Albus Dumbledore. The amount of energy disturbed and released at one time determines how much the environment is affected. For example, transfiguration typically uses more energy than a simple charm, and conjuration uses more energy than simply transfiguring an inanimate object to another inanimate object.

     Magic is also capable of directly manipulating the environment. For example, the spell Aquamenti, (as far as we can understand) takes moisture and particles in the air and directs it as a stream of water from your casting of the spell. Some people deny that magic leaves traces, and even though we know that’s not true, the easiest way to show that magic has an effect on the environment is to bring up spells designed to manipulate the environment. In fact, I bet you can all think of some spells that do this right now. Anyone? Three spells that manipulate the environment? Yes, Miss Laventine?

       “Impervius, Meteolojinx Recanto, and Friomente”

       Very good! Ten points for your house!

      Finally, magic affects the environment because magic is a part of the environment. Magical plants, magical creatures… all these are cases of magic in nature. Elemental plants are even more direct examples, as fire plants for one are somehow able keep the heat which radiates from the plant in close proximity. In this case the plant is using some sort of magic of which we presently can only theorize about. Another case where magic effects the environment you may recall from first year potions; there is a River in Turkey called the Kaybetti River. Located near Ören, the water Kaybetti River has magical capabilities to suppress one’s memories. Like with fire plants, we still only have theories to understand this magical ability (the two main ones connecting the magical properties to a magical plant/fungi in the water or to an ancient wizard’s powerful enchantment).


Effects of the Environment on Magic

Perhaps this entire section could go under reasons to care about changes going on in the environment. Mind you, perhaps everything I teach is a reason to care! Anyways let’s get to the facts. Why don’t I start with potions? Do any of you remember the plant Indigofera peculiar from a potions class last year? Well, the common name is Purple Moon and that magical plant is being severely affected by climate change.  The common name of the plant comes from the fact that the flower is only visible to the naked eye under the light of the full moon. The plant itself usually grows based upon the seasons of the moon, based upon research that is being done to allow the plant to be found without full-moon light. Muggle research has shown that climate change is affecting tropical regions more harshly and quicker than in other regions. An American scientific journal stated that “[a] one degree rise in average tropical temperature leads to a release of around two billion more tons of carbon per year from tropical forests and savannahs, compared with the 1960s and 1970s.”1 Tropical areas have been experienced increased number of storms, droughts, and other disturbing weather incidents. The reason that tropical regions struggle with changes in our climate more than others is that tropical regions normally have very consistent weather and temperatures all year long. Artic regions are used to extreme weather changes and therefore resist influence to a better degree. Anyway, the changes to the Purple Moon’s environment has affected the flowering period of the plant such that when the plant is visible to humans it is not in its ripest stage. This is just the beginnings of the effects of climate change, but it already is causing difficulty in potions. Harvesting a plant during peak periods of ripeness is crucial to the effectiveness of some potions.

      Potions is not the only discipline affected by climate change. Astronomy is affected by the light pollution and air pollution. If you have a moment, I suggest you follow the link at the bottom of this lesson for photos, where you will see some light pollution maps. You may want to look them up on your own time as well. If you want to measure the amount of light population around your home at night you may cast the spell aluminus dectectus (all-OOH-mine-us dee-tech-TUS). The wand motion for that spell is a hill and then valley. The amount of pollution in your area will be revealed by the colour of light your wand will emit for the thirty seconds following when you cast the spell. Make sure to cast the spell at night in order to achieve accurate results. Black light would mean relatively little to no light pollution, and from there it goes to dark blue, light blue, and light green. If your wand even emits a dark blue light, astronomy observations will be tainted. By light green, you have no hope of accurately completing homework. But it gets worse. If you have a yellow, orange, or red-orange, you may want to summer in a dark place – it will be good for your health. If the light is red, well, you may not remember, or even know, what darkness really is. There are three main terms you should know for understanding light pollution and climate change. The first term is Urban Skyglow, which refers to how the sky is lit up at night over urban areas. The second term you should be aware of is Light Trespass, which refers to light brightening in places it is not meant to, desired, or required. A third term you need to make note of is Glare, which refers to light which causes some visible discomfort (and may reduce visibility, like high beams in the muggle car in front of you). All of these forms of light pollution are visible signs that contribute to the problem of climate change. Light pollution can prevent nocturnal plants from growing, and even disrupts animals sleeping patterns. Owls do not enjoy the excess light at night, when they normally are able to appreciate the beauty within natural darkness. Air pollution also affects the field of astronomy. When there are thick or dense gasses in the air, it affects the view of the sky. Carbon based gasses tend to be at fault. While not all air pollution affects astronomy, and we should not be content with just attempting to get arid of the dense gasses, I might add that the carbon based gasses seem to be doing the most damage to begin with. Carbon dioxide is perhaps the worst gas at fault for the warming of our planet.

aluminus dectectus wand movement

       There is a third class I would like to bring up this week in relation to climate change. Specifically, I want to bring up this class in connection to being affected by how Herbology is affected by climate change. The plants which are affected by climate change also have an effect on Care of Magical Creatures. Consider especially how the food chain works. At some point, there is a creature which is eating a plant. If there is a plant that is affected by climate change, then it affects that creature, as well as any creatures which eat the creature that eats the plant. Okay, that sounded wordy to me. Let’s look at a specific example.

       Alongside the lakes and rivers in the northern parts of North America, one can find a magical plant called Vishyroot (Typha mayia). Vishyroot looks like what you may know as cattails, except that it is an icy grey colour and glows when it is growing (which it does every two to three months, about five inches at a time). Anyhow, Vishyroot is the main diet of snowducks, and it is only because of a Magizoologist’s study in magical artic animals that we have information on the Vishyroot plant.

       Snowducks are a breed of duck that Muggles believe are a myth or extinct, depending on who you ask. What is of particular note in these artic birds is that they freeze their eggs in order to hatch them (whereas you are used to animals keeping their eggs warm!). When the egg comes out of the duck, the shell is solid and will not be broken. By freezing the egg the shell becomes brittle and the snowduckling is able to get out. On the magizoologists team was a Herbologist named John Escarcha. Escarcha set about determining what effect the Snowduck’s diet had on this process. From his study he was able to determine three properties of Vishyroot. When the snowducks ate the Vishyroot, the stem acted like ice cubes in the snowduck’s body, with the most noticeable affect being the cooling of breath. The leaves of the Vishyroot cause major salivation, and the snowducks would only eat the leaves during the process of caring for the egg. The Vishyroot leaves led to enough salivation that the snowducks were able to cover their eggs with a thin layer of drool to help with the freezing process. The last property discovered by Escarcha was that the flowers are high in many nutrients. This includes protein, iron, fibre, vitamin K, potassium, and calcium. This explains why snowducks are basically able to live off of the plant

       The problem is that with all the changes in weather in the northern hemisphere, the Vishyroot are struggling to survive. When the temperature is too high, the Vishyroot shrivels up. And without the quantities of Vishyroot, the snowducks are confined to smaller and smaller landmasses. If this pattern continues, there will be no natural livable environment for snowducks.


Social Responsibility and Community Involvement

Now that you have learned about how bad things are becoming, I hope that you are filled with the feeling of wanting to do something. Perhaps last lesson’s extra credit assignment on Good Citizenship has given you an idea of how you personally would like to take part in living out your global citizenship. There is not enough time to get into some of your options this class, therefore this information will be covered in week six.

       For now I would like to transition between the lesson content and the major review point. This year is an important time to think about your individual role in society, and what you are going to do to be socially responsible. So let's think about some of the reasons you should care individually, and what it means to be socially responsible. First of all, what does social responsibility mean? Anyone? Yes, Mr. Goodfellow.

      “Social responsibility is about an individual’s duty to act in a way that benefits society as a whole, as well is the obligation everyone has to make sure there is balance between human lifestyles and the ecosystem.”

       Excellent answer! You’ve been doing some outside reading, I can tell! I think that answer deserves a full 15 house points.

      In our consideration of social responsibility in the context of Herbology I would like you all to think about how this subject fits in with the other classes at Hogwarts, as well as how it fits into different jobs in the Wizarding community.


Major Review Point

Herbology and Community! Today we are going to review what we know about how Herbology fits into other subjects, muggle life, and what we know about Herbology and balance in the world. I invite you all to take out your notebooks and flip through to find what notes you have taken in previous years. I suspect there is rather a lot about potions, so why don’t we start with that one?

       Plants are used in potions for several main reasons. For one, plants contain many useful properties that can be taken advantage of in a potion. The properties of plants may be too strong, or not efficient enough when used alone, so in potions class you may take these plants and add various other ingredients to achieve your desired effect. Another reason plants are used in potions is for the scent. Perfume potions utilize plants, but other potions use plants to mask bad smells, especially in cases such as medicine for children. Potions also use plants to add a quality of freshness and naturalness. Beauty potions work well especially due to their plant ingredients. Plants are so wonderful as potions ingredients that anyone would have a hard time thinking up of one that would not be useful in some potion or another. In fact, the only plants I can think of that are not ever used in potions are all fruits and vegetables. And the reason those are not used isn’t because they wouldn’t be useful in a potion, but because they are so useful that we need them before we have time to experiment with putting them in potions.

        The class you might have the next largest amount of notes related to Herbology within would be Care of Magical Creatures. Many creatures eat plants as their main or only diet. Other connections come by the fact that creatures are sometimes attracted to the scent of plants, or even their colour. Some witches I know plant certain flowers because they attract the women’s favourite birds. Fairies have a similar affinity for certain plants. Other connections between Care of Magical Creatures and Herbology centre around nest building, mating rituals and grounds (male creatures often cover themselves with pleasing scents), creature healing practices. Even Herbologist’s practices utilize creatures. The method used to find the plant Raskovnik from year two was to lock an animal’s baby in a cage so that the parent would fetch the plant to release the baby.

       Astronomy also relates to Herbology. Some plants only bloom during certain phases of the moon. Some plants require moonlight to bloom and grow. Astronomy requires a well-balanced ecosystem to study the sky from. (Recall from last lesson how light pollution disrupts Astronomy).

       Let’s go through some of the other core classes. Charms relate to Herbology in the various charms that exist for movement of plant based objects, as well as for charming plants for entertainment. You may recall learning about how plants can be charmed to sing and dance. In Defense Against the Dark Arts you may learn about defending yourself from Dark spells put on grass (such as “Hungry” grass), or about the dangers plants pose (assassination by Devil’s Snare, or being cured by Treevot). Herbology has a rich history with History of Magic, as Herbologists were often the main connection between the Wizarding and Muggle worlds. Furthermore, the history of the relationship between wizards and Herbology is intricately related to what happened in the political history of each particular time period. The Gardening Effect is a strong example of this in Britain, most of Asia, and North America, where politics have moved further and further away from protecting the environment and the people and more and more to protecting the economic interests of the various ministries. On the other hand, in places such as South America where the people still place a high value upon Herbology, the people have a deeper sense of community and it is evident in their politics. Now if only foreign governments would stop taking advantage of the resources in those countries…

        My, my, I’ve started rambling. It just bothers me a lot, you know? Well, let’s get back on topic. The final core class is Transfiguration. Most of the time in earlier levels of Transfiguration you will find that you are using a plant or plant based object. Take matchsticks for example… you can thank a tree for those. Transfiguration is also related to Herbology in the muggle understandings of the word. In the Catholic and Orthodox faiths grapes which are fermented into wine, and grain made into bread are “transfigured” into the body and blood of Jesus. This transfiguration is given a special word transubstantiation.

       Our lesson time is almost up, but I think we have time to talk about two more electives and their relation to Herbology. There are several Divination methods involving plants, the most popular of which is using tea leaves. Other common methods involve using tree branches, sticks, and flower petals. Magical Art relates to Herbology because you can make art with plants! Mix powdered plants with egg yolks, vinegar, and water, or take dry materials and simmer them in water until they release the dye. Crush and strain berries to make beautiful water colours. If you are interested in this process I suggest going ahead and either doing your own research or including it in your final review project this year.

Indigo dye made from a plant

       Continuing our review of Herbology and community we need to discuss the importance of balance within the smaller picture communities within ecosystems. One necessary balance in ecosystems is a pH level to match the plants that grow in the area. If the pH level is too high or low for a particular environment, the plants will not grow. Humans can affect a soil’s pH level by adding different kinds of fertilizers. There are other methods such as adding ground limestone raises the pH level, and adding pine needles or peat moss to the soil can lower the pH level. Another way that individual ecosystems require balance is in having the proper plants and animals present. Alien species can take environments and drain the resources in the land. One alien species is able to affect an entire ecosystem. You should have notes on this subject from lesson eight of your first year.


       For this week's optional discussion board question (please post on HiH forums) I suggest a statement about what Herbology means in your life, your family's life, and in your community. How does it relate to your future work? How does ecology effect your family's work? What is going on in your community either that is affected by the environment, is affecting the environment, or is helping the environment?

      There will be no extra credit assignment this week.


 Lesson photos may be found at: https://www.facebook.com/618733468194484/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1106835456050947


Worked Cited

Honeyager, Michelle Lovrine. "How to Make Dyes/Paints From Plants." RecycleNation. April 16, 2015. http://recyclenation.com/2015/04/how-to-make-dyes-paints-from-plants.

Radford, Tim. "Tropics Feel the Heat of Climate Change." Scientific American. January 31, 2014. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tropics-feel-the-heat-of-climate-change/.



New Year Five Herbology lessons will be posted as soon as possible.

To continue to receive house points, you may choose to complete these lessons.

Thank you for your patience,
Professor Rowan