The Heart-Shaped Herb was a plant native to Wakanda that was traditionally consumed by the new ruler and the heir to the mantle of the Black Panther in order to obtain enhanced physical abilities, as well as entering the Ancestral Plane through a ritual process.
Thousands of years ago, a large meteorite composed of Vibranium crashed into Africa, where it gave off massive amounts of radiation, affecting the plant life around it, including the herb. When several tribes began fighting over the Vibranium, the panther God Bast instructed a warrior to ingest the herb, transforming him into the first Black Panther, who united the tribes into the country of Wakanda.
Usage Over the Years
The herb's powers are tied to the vibranium that has been present in the soil of Wakanda for millions of years. Each Black Panther throughout the generations has consumed the herb once they gain their title, in order to gain enhanced abilities. It's surrounded by ceremonies involving Zuri's children. Usage of the Heart-Shaped Herbs is seemingly limited to the royal family to allow them to better protect themselves and Wakanda. During the ritual combat in which any tribe or family member may challenge the heir for the throne, the heir must drink a serum to strip away the capabilities of the Heart-Shaped Herbs.
- "My King, we cannot do that. This is Wakandan tradition for centuries."
"When I tell you to do something, I mean that shit. Burn it all!"
- ―Erik Killmonger, threatening the Shaman
When Erik Killmonger became King of Wakanda and obtained the powers of the herbs, he ordered the herbs burned so no one could use their powers against him. However, Nakia was able to secretly steal one of the herbs before they were all burned.
The Heart-Shaped Herb granted enhanced strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes, agility, and instincts to those who consume it. For example, T'Chaka was able to effortlessly lift a person with one hand and even run as fast as a zebra as stated by T'Challa himself. There is a preparation able to negate the powers of the herbs, used to allow fair combat trials for the mantles of both Black Panther and King of Wakanda. When ingested, the herbs have the power to allow the user to temporarily commune with the dead in the Ancestral Plane.
Behind the Scenes
- While explaining the plant and the rituals, Kevin Feige said: "That’s partially spiritual. We certainly don’t call it magic, but there’s Vibranium that has been interwoven within that soil and that land for thousands of years, so there are other things going on with it."