Lesson 5) Research with Care of Magical Creatures II – Unicorns, Plants, and Purity

Herbology 501

Professor Tudor



Year 5 – Politics, Theory and Research

Lesson 5 - Research with Care of Magical Creatures II – Unicorns, Plants, and Purity

            Flutterby bush

    "The blood of a Unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something pure and defenceless to save yourself, and you will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips."


Lesson Objectives

  • To give students an introduction to plants and nonviolence
  • 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

 Unicorn - Lesson Quote

The Unicorn


If you are taking Year 5 CoMC, the eighth lesson will be about Unicorns. A small introduction will be given to the creature here since some of you are not taking that class. First of Unicorns look like a fully white horse with a single horn on its forehead, although the foals are golden or silver. Unicorns are known for their purity, which is particularly what makes Unicorns interesting to us. Plants tend to be connected to purity in general because of how plants are natural; however, that is not the connection made for this lesson. In order to get a sense of what is the focus of this lesson, let us take a look at a moment recorded in Harry Potter’s life.


            In Harry Potter’s first year at Hogwarts he was given a detention where he had to go into the Forbidden Forest. Hagrid takes Harry (and the others in detention with him) through the Forbidden Forest to search for a Unicorn that is injured. During the pursuit of the injured Unicorn Harry is separated from everyone else. In this time a Centaur named Firenze talks to Harry and describes the Unicorn as “pure and defenceless.” The fact that the Unicorn is called defenceless is significant to the beast’s relationship to plants. It is a reference to the nonviolent ways of the Unicorns.


Purity and Plants

(or, Plants and Nonviolence)


Instead of just looking at perspectives on plants, today we will be looking at a plant’s perspective. Specifically, we will be looking at the perspective of plants that attract Unicorns.  As I mentioned before, Unicorns are creatures of nonviolence. They do not attack other creatures or humans, and will resist injustice in nonviolent ways. In no way does this mean that Unicorns are weak. The Unicorns are strong creatures, and their integrity is admirable.


To illustrate this point, I want you to think of Harry Potter. Was he weak when he used Expelliarmus instead of Avada Kedavera against Voldemort? Of course he wasn’t. Harry was wiser than Voldemort, because Harry came to understand that violence wasn’t the answer, but love was.


If you can see how the Unicorns and Harry Potter are stronger for choosing nonviolence, then perhaps you are able to see how many plants are nonviolent, and stronger for it. Plants which are nonviolent have grown in such a way that they do not harm others. They may have the ability to cause harm, but do not. For example, some plants which are Class A choose not to release their powder or gas so that no one can be hurt. Some magical plants disarm their would-be attacker instead of attacking back. Other plants, such as our main plant today – the Flutterby bush, do not have any methods of hurting others. Before we start on the bush please copy out the chart I am putting on the board.



Nonviolent characteristics

Violent characteristics

Shields self

Attacks others

Protects others by shielding them

Causes deaths

Refuses to release gasses

Releases gasses

Smooth or otherwise harmless to touch

Poisonous, or sharp to touch

Aims to disarm

Intends to cause harm


            Please make note of the fact that plants can be naturally nonviolent of choose to be nonviolent. Plants that choose nonviolence have ways in which they could harm others but live in such a way that they intentionally do not cause harm. Only magical plants have the ability to choose nonviolence. Both magical and non-magical plants can be naturally nonviolent, as this occurs when the plant is grown without the capability to harm others. Finally, a frequently asked question about violent verses nonviolent plants is in the case that harm occurs after the plant is dead. If the plant can be harmful when eaten in large doses this does not make it a violent plant, as when it is dead it is someone else’s responsibility to handle. The plant does not live in such a way to encourage its future consumption so the person who picks and serves the plant is the one liable.


Flutterby bush


The Flutterby bush is one of the most beautiful plants housed in the Hogwarts greenhouses, although it only flowers every 100 years. Even when it is not flowering the Flutterby bush is a fantastic sight to behold, for its foliage shimmers and shines. Muggleborns who see this plant usually take a while to believe it is not an artificial plant. (Muggles who somehow come across this plant remain convinced it is a fake plant; however, the Ministry of Magic still requires that the bush be kept indoors in Muggle neighborhoods). You’ll notice when examining the foliage how the tips are sparkly and the leaves shimmer in the light. When the plant is flowering, it looks like the bush is covered in hundreds of light green butterflies. Incredible, isn’t it!


            There are a couple of qualities to the Flutterby bush which makes the plant distinctly magical. First of all, the plant is constantly in motion. The leaves move in a fluttering pattern even when there is no wind. The Flutterby bush was named for this very quality. Even though it is a beautiful plant, it can be an eerie feeling to see leaves moving about when everything else in the room is still. The second magical quality of the Flutterby bush is its scent. It is able to adapt its scent in order to attract attention from any individual person. The Flutterby bush is well known for its showing off. Particularly, the unwary wanderer is brought away from whatever it is that the person had been intending to do by being attracted to the scent of the bush. The Flutterby bush does not distract people in order to lead them into danger, but just in order to show off its beauty. This is why the plant is considered nonviolent. Person may get lost or become late but that is not the plants intention.


            The scent of the leaves and flowers are used in amortentia, which is a powerful love potion. Also, the Flutterby bush may often be found at weddings as a decoration. Unicorns love this plant not only for their shared stance of nonviolence but for their beauty and pleasing scent.


Major Review Point


This week I’d like to take a comprehensive look at what we have learned so far about the historic roles of Herbologists and various Herbology traditions. In particular we will focus on the relationship with the earth, with Muggles, and across cultures.


            Herbologists have always been more connected to the earth than wizards in any other profession. They do not simply take the world at surface value, but look deep into the ground, in the soil and in the waters, trying to understand how magic flows through the roots in the soil. With some exceptions of rather eccentric characters, Herbologists have always worked with both magical and non-magical plants. Since both types of plants are useful to Wizards, whether one is in the Auror department, working as a Healer, or simply brewing potions in a classroom, Herbologists consider the relationship between the whole earth of greatest significance. It is perhaps this basis which made Herbologists the major proponents of Wizard-Muggle relations before the Statue of Secrecy. Indeed, Herbologists understood the value of including everyone in the community, because whether magical or not, every person and every plant is valuable in their own right.


            We did a short exploration of the relationship between Herbologist and Muggles in Year Two. At this time we talked about how Herbologists were viewed as religious leaders by Muggles. This was because Herbologists brought the power of their healing into the Muggle communities. The great healing power was understood by the Muggles to surpass our understanding of magic and transcend into their ideas of the realm of the mystical. In general magic was associated with deities and therefore the Herbologists were brought into the various religions of the communities they supported. It should be noted that the Herbologists were quite open-minded and accepted whatever the Muggles wanted to believe about them as long as the Herbologists were able to do their healing ministries. Many Herbologists attempted to convert the Muggles to whichever religion the Herbologist ascribed to but never to the extent that it might have gotten in the way of the work they were doing.


            The two main historic traditions we have covered so far are from Chinese and Aboriginal, Herbologist traditions. Chinese Herbologists tended to work with plants of high toxicity levels, and therefore tended to separate the plant nutrients from the plant material (such as roots, leaves, or flowers). We would know a lot less about many dangerous plants if it weren’t for the work of these Herbologists. When learning about the Chinese traditions we also learned about the Ying and Yang theory, and its modern application (as applied to the balance between nature and civilization). This focus shows how Chinese Herbologists today remain connected to their historic roots. As your History of Magic professor would agree, when you lose your connection to your history you miss out on the development on the future. Without a past there is no future, and without a foundation there can be no building. The connection between historic tradition and present work is also found in the Aboriginal Herbologist traditions we studied. Aboriginal Herbologists connected the plants they studied to the four directions and the four seasons. This expresses their philosophy of examining the earth. The seasons and directions were in turn connected to colours, which were then connected to the four types of health in the Aboriginal tradition: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Today’s Aboriginal Herbologists are still employing the same methods of understanding plants; however, their approach has changed. Traditionally Aboriginal Herbologists only worked within their own communities, but today they have set up networks to help a broader number of people and are conversing with other Herbologists from around the world to spread knowledge and gain information about plants not native to North America.


Thank you for attending class today. The homework is a take home quiz which should be handed in before the beginning of next class. Photos for today’s lesson may be found at _____.


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