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Possibly a corruption of Russian баране́ц (baranéc), from бара́н (barán, ram), used to describe a species of club moss.


barometz (plural barometzes)

  1. A purported zoophyte, half-animal and half-plant, said to grow in the form of a sheep.
    • 1646, Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, III.28:
      Much wonder is made of the borametz, that strange plant-animal or vegetable lamb of Tartary, which wolves delight to feed on, which hath the shape of a lamb, affordeth a bloody juice upon breaking, and liveth while the plants be consumed about it.
    • 1791, Erasmus Darwin, The Botanic Garden, Part 1:
      Cradled in ſnow and fann'd by gentle air / Shines, gentle Barometz! thy golden hair; / Rooted in earth each cloven hood deſcends, / And round and round her flexile neck ſhe bends […].
    • 1987, Willy Ley, Willy Ley's Exotic Zoology, page 60:
      That is the version in which the barometz grows out of the ground, being attached to its root system by its umbilical cord and capable of feeding only as far as that cord will reach — a perfect counterpart to the Jidra of the Talmud.
    • 1999, Mike Mitchell, translating HJC von Grimmelshausen, Simplicissimus, V.22, Dedalus 2016, p. 426:
      I was captured along with some others by a band of Tartars and carried off so deep into their territory that I not only saw borametz, the legendary sheep-shaped melon, growing, I ate it.
  2. The woolly fern, Cibotium barometz, whose inverted roots are thought to be the basis for the legend.
    • 1807, John Aikin, Geographical Delineations:
      A singular vegetable production met with in the deserts, concerning which various fables have been related, is a kind of fern called the barometz, or Scythian lamb; the latter name being given to it from its woolly body, attached to the ground by a long slender stalk, affording a distant resemeblance to a lamb grazing.
    • 1861, Sir William Jackson Hooker, The British ferns:
      Nor can we affirm that this plant of Kunze is not that which gave rise to the tales of wonder, for, although the species was first botanically determined by Kunze from Cuming's Philippine Island speciments, and although it is shown to be a native also of Sumatra, yet we have lately (in 'Kew Garden Miscellany,' vol. ix. p. 334) had occasion to record the fact of our having received specimens of the same Fern from Hongkong, Chusan, and South China, of which country the Barometz is considered a native.
    • 1873, Benjamin Samuel Williams, Select Ferns and Lycopods: British and Exotic, page 96:
      This is a small distinct genus of robust-growing and highly ornamental plants; and, though generally considered Tree Ferns, some species have a decumbent rhizome, of which the Barometz, or Vegetable Lamb, is a good example.
    • 1949, The Begonian - Volumes 16-17, page 265:
      The Barometz is more stiff and upright where the Scheidei droops and is more delicate and lighter green.