In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, George convinces Ron that the following nonsensical poem is a spell:

"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow,

Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow."

But Ron has grown up in a wizarding home, and has presumably heard his parents and siblings using spells all his life. Every other spell, including simple household spells, has a short, Latinate (or occasionally English) incantation like Lumos, Aguamenti, Accio, Wingardium Leviosa, etc., etc. So how could he believe that this poem is a spell? Is there an in-universe explanation for this?

  • 41
    Rons kind of stupid...
    – Himarm
    May 4, 2015 at 13:31
  • 100
    Ron also half-believed they had to wrestle a troll for the Sorting. Dude was 11 years old, and basically hero-worshipped the twins. Plus, given their exploits, Fred and George could be convincing liars when they wanted to. Not the first case of a younger child believing something ridiculous on the word of an older sibling.
    – DavidS
    May 4, 2015 at 13:35
  • 14
    Because he's a schmuck.
    – Valorum
    May 4, 2015 at 14:13
  • 11
    Fred and George are master pranksters. Who’s to say one didn’t claim to demonstrate this spell on Scabbers, while the other cast a real colour change charm from the shadows?
    – alexwlchan
    May 4, 2015 at 15:11
  • 6
    It might be that Ron actually did not knew much about spells. Recall that Weasley's are such a family where both parents and eldest children knew about the Triwizard Tournament, but did not let the youngsters know the secret on principle. It is perfectly possible that Weasley parents are taking special care not to expose their young children to magic until they come of schooling age. May 4, 2015 at 15:33

4 Answers 4


First let me say that I don't believe it is a real spell.

The thing we need to realize is that Ron did not know enough spells to differentiate between fake and real spells. Mr and Mrs Weasley would have used Nonverbal Spells at home.

We also know that Ron blindly trusted his brothers which is normal at that age.

Instance 1:

“So we’ve just got to try on the hat!” Ron whispered to Harry. “I’ll kill Fred, he was going on about wrestling a troll.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Chapter 7, The Sorting Hat

Instance 2:

“I’d worked that much out for myself, funnily enough. What happens if you break it, then?”

“You die,” said Ron simply. “Fred and George tried to get me to make one when I was about five. I nearly did too, I was holding hands with Fred and everything when Dad found us. He went mental,” said Ron, with a reminiscent gleam in his eyes. “Only time I’ve ever seen Dad as angry as Mum, Fred reckons his left buttock has never been the same since.”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 16, A Very Frosty Christmas

Most probably Ron was nervous after all he had five brothers who have been to Hogwarts, he would have definitely been nervous. Knowing Fred and George those guys would have thought it was fun to scare Ron.

Generally younger siblings trust their elder siblings. My brother had me believing in lots of silly stuff when I was a kid!

  • 33
    Yup. I had my younger brother believing that the Terminator 2 movie was a prophecy, and was really going to happen.
    – PiousVenom
    May 4, 2015 at 15:57
  • 9
    You are a cruel brother :)
    – Vishvesh
    May 4, 2015 at 16:07
  • @Vishvesh And a genius.
    – Nerrolken
    Sep 9, 2015 at 13:19
  • Unfortunately, the good people of Wikipedia apparently hate fun even more than we do. That link is now dead.
    – Kevin
    Apr 23, 2019 at 3:47

Who says the spell doesn't work? As far as we know he only tried it on Animagus, which hardly qualifies as an intended target.

  • 3
    Early clue that it was Pettigrew!!
    – user001
    Sep 9, 2015 at 14:05
  • But why did Ron think that incantation would be a spell? The question has nothing to do about why it didn't work.
    – Skooba
    Jul 3, 2017 at 11:44

Most likely he believed it because it is a real spell. The 'Colour Change Charm' is mentioned in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, explicitly in relation to the ability to change the colour of a rat:

On the whole, Harry thought it went rather well. His Levitation Charm was certainly much better than Malfoy’s had been, though he wished he had not mixed up the incantations for Colour Change and Growth Charms, so that the rat he was supposed to be turning orange swelled shockingly and was the size of a badger before Harry could rectify his mistake.

As to why it didn't work, you can choose from the current answers;

  • @Zikato's suggestion that it failed because Scabbers is no ordinary rat seems plausible.

  • @Vishvesh's suggestion that Ron's brothers had intentionally taught him a wrong incantation (for their own amusement) also seems pretty plausible as well.

  • There are also other spells (eat slugs!) that seem to operate in English.

  • 9
    I think the real question is "how could he believe it was the correct formulation of the spell" and not "how could he believe the intended effected (color change) existed as a spell"
    – Kalissar
    May 4, 2015 at 15:29
  • 3
    What @Kalissar said. The question is "Why did Ron believe 'Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow' is a spell?" not "Why did Ron believe that there was a spell to turn a rat yellow?" May 4, 2015 at 16:29
  • 1
    Eat slugs, nice catch!
    – Don_Biglia
    May 5, 2015 at 6:36
  • 1
    Also, the spell does sound plausible, being loosely based on a well-known Lesley Gore song (sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows).
    – Damon
    May 6, 2015 at 7:41
  • 2
    As scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/59237/… shows, the 'eat slugs' spell is simply being cast non-verbally. In the films they had Ron shout this out for effect, and to make it clear what he was casting.
    – Cronax
    May 6, 2015 at 12:09

I think we are forgetting about the changing water into rum spell that is seen later:

Eye of rabbit, harp string hum, turn this water into rum.

This indicates that these more poetic spells do exist or at least thought to exist by more students than just the younger brother of two pranksters.

  • 1
    If memory serves, this spell also backfires without having the desired effect; harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/…. It's not clear if it works or if it's just another joke played by the Weasley twins.
    – Valorum
    Jan 7, 2018 at 22:56

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