In anticipation of Mockingjay, part 2 opening in theater this Friday, us pulled this write-up from our archives as a horticultural hat tip to Suzanne Collins and The Hunger gamings trilogy.By Anna Laurent

“Plants are tricky. Plenty of are edible, however one false mouthful and you"re dead.” —The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Whether or no you"ve watched the movies or read the books, girlfriend probably understand that The Hunger Games is a dystopian story that competition and also survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Lot of the rigid takes ar in the wilderness, a setup that comes through its own actors of characters: plants. The publication (not so much the film) is a wonderful collection of ethnobotanical references. Flowers that heal, trees the feed, and also berries the kill—plants space the ally and also the enemy.

Author Suzanne Collins taken into consideration the meaning of the wild plant when she scripted a food-insecure world, and also her characters are often identified by a plant—some have the right to identify castle (they live), others can"t (they die). Collins has also named several major characters because that plants that represent them. And, in the months due to the fact that The Hunger Games premiered on screen, there has actually been a put in order appetite because that foraging and wild plant literacy. A high college in Texas was influenced to present a course on tree identification and also foraging, and there have been a variety of Hunger Games-inspired recipes, numerous of which include plants mentioned in the book.

Without more ado, a perform of several far-reaching plants in The Hunger Games. Come readers that aren"t acquainted with the story, 2 warnings: first, the list includes some spoilers. Second, beware the deadly nightlock berry!


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Katniss plant. Photo by: Wikimedia Commons.

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KatnissKatniss Everdeen, the story"s heroine and also champion forager is named for a plant. Hardy, valuable, and sometimes sweet, the katniss plant is additionally an adaptable survivor, similar to the character. Also known as duck potato and also swan potato, the tree is sometimes called "arrowhead," derived from the Latin name for that genus: Sagittaria, which describes the archer in the zodiac—a grasp with the bow and arrow, just like the young protagonist.

In the wild, the katniss plant is uncovered in wetlands. The leaves are edible, despite it"s most valued for its roots: large, nutritious tubers who taste is equivalent to a sweet potato. Katniss was once a clip food of indigenous Americans, specifically in the Northwest (where castle dug up the plant through their toes). That the 30 katniss species, Sagittaria latifolia is many prevalent in phibìc America.


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Evening primrose (Oenothera lamarckiana). Photograph by: aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu.


PrimrosePrimrose Everdeen, Katniss"s tenderness sister, is most most likely named because that the evening primrose, Oenothera spp, a plant the Collins explains as beautiful and also delicate. Favor the character, primrose flowers room not all that hardy—they"re no at the games either. The evening primrose is a medicinal plant, called "king"s-cure-all, and also a softening agent, both of which reflect Primrose"s character in the story. The flowers will prosper in forsaken land, as with the young girl—except in regions west of the Rockies, which is wherein the story"s "Capitol" is most likely located—and additionally where the character herself dies.


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Rue plant (left); Rue listing in Tacuinum Sanitatis, a middle ages handbook on wellness (right). Photo by: Wikimedia Commons.


RueThe rue tree (Ruta) is an evergreen "herb-of-grace" the carries countless metaphors. It"s been called the tree of purity and it is featured in many social and spiritual ceremonies. In literature, it has actually been used as a symbol of both regret and freedom. And also so the is one apt name for the young girl that befriends Katniss throughout the games, whose death serves as a turning point in the narrative. Once Rue is killed, Katniss"s remorse becomes a feeling of freedom, prompting she to beginning the crucial rebellion.


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Nuphar luteum (left); Nymphaea mexicana, indigenous to the southerly United claims (right). Photo by: Wikimedia Commons.


Pond Lilies"Tomorrow I’ll continue to be here, resting, camouflaging my backpack through mud, recording some of those tiny fish I saw as ns sipped, digging up the root of the pond lilies to make a quite meal."

Katniss"s survival arrangement sounds very pleasant—a picnic by the lily pond. Collins does not point out the species, therefore the lilies of The Hunger Games might be any varieties of the most usual three genuses—Nuphar, Nymphaea, and Nelumbo, all of which have actually edible rhizomes. Pond lily roots are enormous, spongy, and sold in countless street sectors (think that the lotus root, i m sorry the Chinese speak to a "cooling" food, believed to restore balance in the body).


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Edible pine tree bark. Picture by: woodcraftwanderings.org.


Pine Trees“I slowly chew the stuff as I walk along ... That a tiny hard to choke down.”

With tiny else come eat, Katniss turns to a pine tree tree. That is soft within bark can be a good meal and its needles space a good source that Vitamin C. Native Americans often chewed on pine tree bark during the winter months to conserve food reserves.


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From Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler"s Medizinal-Pflanzen, 1897 (left); dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) (right). Photograph by: Wikimedia Commons.


Dandelions"I had just turned away from Peeta Mellark"s bruised face when I saw the dandelion and I knew expect wasn"t lost. I plucked it carefully and hurried home. I ordered a bucket and Prim"s hand and also headed come the Meadow and also yes, it to be dotted with the golden-headed weeds. After we"d harvest those, we scrounged follow me inside the fence for most likely a mile until we to fill the bucket v the dandelion greens, stems and flowers."

In the story, the dandelion i do not care a symbol of hope for Katniss, and evidence of her resourcefulness and expert foraging. Once she watch the ar of dandelions, she profit confidence in her ability to feed she family. Dandelions are completely edible—to a forager, a dandelion field means something entirely different than what it method to the gardener. Dandelion leaves have much more beta carotene 보다 carrots and an ext iron 보다 spinach. The root deserve to be used as an natural remedy for a number of ailments and the milky sap deserve to soothe punishment stings and also blisters.


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European Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum). Picture by: Wikimedia Commons.


HoneysuckleWhen Katniss emerges from the tracker jacker (engineered wasp) hallucinations, she reaches because that a honeysuckle to soothe she spirits and sweeten she tongue. The edible nectar can be eaten straight from the flower—remove the stamen indigenous the bottom that the flower, and suck the nectar droplet.


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Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna). Photo by: Wikimedia Commons.


NightlockNightlock, the toxicity of the forest, doesn"t in reality exist, but its surname is many likely derived from 2 living tree with similar toxicity: deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), and poison hemlock (Conium maculatum). Ancient Romans offered the nighshade"s berries and also leaves as a poison, and also hemlock was famously supplied in the fatality of Socrates. In The Hunger Games, Katniss correctly identifies part berries the Peeta collects to be deadly. A competitor who doesn"t re-publishing Katniss"s plant identification acumen later eats the nightlock"s berries, v fatal consequences.


UnidentifiedCollins writes about one tree whose identity eludes us. The leaves of one unnamed plant are provided several time to heal various wounds and also ailments: in one instance, Rue chews the leaves, then uses the pulpy salve to Katniss"s tracker jacker wounds; in another, Katniss"s mommy boils the leaves to do a medicinal elixir; finally, Katniss supplies the leaves to act Peeta"s leg wound. It"s possible that the tree is Calendula officinalis, which herbalists regularly laud because that its helpful tinctures, tea, and oil. Calendula leaves and also petals have been used to reduce inflammation and also as one antiseptic versus infection. Calendula is a good candidate for this unnamed plant, but it"s tough to be sure. Hunger Games fans, what do you think it can be?

Thanks to Peter Schafran, ethnobotanist at Old dominance University, for consulting on this piece.

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