The Heart-Shaped Herb was a plant native to Wakanda that was traditionally consumed by the new King 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.
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 that are partly spiritual, although not necessarily magic, in nature.
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
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.
- "But my king, we cannot. This is Wakandan tradition for centuries."
"When I tell you to do something, I mean that shit."
- ―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 grants enhanced strength, mobility, stamina, endurance and instincts to those who consume it. 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 seem to have the power to allow the user to commune with the dead temporarily. It is unknown if the effects are genuine or a hallucination based on the individual's personal experiences as T'Challa saw his father in a green field as taught by his culture whereas Erik Killmonger saw his father in the apartment where his father was killed rather than the green field. Therefore, it is possible for the person to see a hallucination of the place they associate the most with where they expect to see their deceased loved one.
Behind the Scenes
- While explaining the plant and the ceremonies, 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."