"The sopophorous bean was proving very difficult to cut up."
— The difficulty of cutting up these beans[src]

The Sopophorous bean was the fruit of the Sopophorous plant; it was a shrivelled pearly-white bean which resembled an overgrown Mistletoe berry.[2][1] It had many magical properties and was used as an ingredient in Potion-making.[2]

Uses

A sopophorous bean

The Sopophorous bean contained a thick silver juice that would remove the drinker's memory if drunk neat.[1] If used in potion-making, it did not seem to retain this power.

A pile of sopophorous beans

The Sopophorous bean was used as an ingredient in the Draught of Living Death.[2] The potion's written instructions, as featured in Advanced Potion-Making by Libatius Borage, said to cut the bean in order to release the juice within.[2] However, this could prove very difficult,[2] and the bean often bounced when punctured with the blade of a knife.[4]

However, crushing the bean with the flat side of a silver knife was a more simple and effective method of obtaining the juice, as suggested by Severus Snape in his personal copy of Advanced Potion-Making.[2]

Etymology

The prefix "Sopo-" most likely comes from the Latin sopor meaning "deep sleep". The suffix "-phorous" is more elusive, though it could quite possibly have the same etymological roots as the "-phorus" in "phosphorus" (a chemical element) - in this case "phos-" and "-phorus" come from the Greek φως (fo̱s in the Latin script, meaning light) and φέρω (féro̱ in the Latin script, meaning bringer or carrier) respectively. Hence, "Sopophorus" would read as "bringer of deep sleep", which is appropriate given its use as an ingredient in the Draught of Living Death.

Also, it is a possible allusion to the plant historically used by the Native American shamans of the ancient Southwest, the mescal bean (Sophora Secundiflora). These beans also have a very hard shell and were split open and made into various concoctions that were then imbibed by the user in spiritual ceremonies. The sophora beans were described to put the user into a coma-like trance where the other elements of the magic ceremony could be carried out.

Behind the scenes

A sopophorous bean as seen in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Appearances

Notes and references

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