"Boys keep back! They prefer the woman's touch, unicorns. Girls to the front, and approach with care, come on, easy does it. ..."
-- Professor Grubbly-Plank (OP15)
Unicorns are magical pure-white horses with a single horn on their foreheads.
Unicorns are known to live in the Forbidden Forest, but are very difficult to catch or even catch sight of. However, while possessing Quirrel, Voldemort was able to kill a unicorn and drink its blood. Harry, Neville and Draco accompany Hagrid and Fang into the Forest to try and track the injured unicorn. Firenze tells Harry that unicorn blood will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price (PS15).
- Silver unicorn horns cost twenty-one Galleons each at the Apothecary in Diagon Alley (PS5)
- Mr. Ollivander uses unicorn tail hairs in some of his wands (see) (PS5)
- Unicorn blood is silver-blue in color and shines under moonlight (PS15)
- Unicorns are powerful magical creatures. It's not easy to catch them (PS15,)
- long slender legs, pearly-white mane
- horn and tail hair used as potion ingredients
- Unicorn hooves are golden.
- Unicorns prefer a woman's touch (FB,OP15).
- "They're a bit more trustin' when they're babies...don' mind boys so much...." -- Hagrid (GF10)
- Unicorn foals are pure gold. They turn silver when they're about two years old. They grow horns at around four. At about seven years old, they're fully grown and turn pure white. (GF10, FB)
- Voldemort's potion included unicorn blood and snake venom (GF33).
- Anyone who drinks unicorn's blood has a cursed life according to the centaur Firenze (PS15, Pm).
- Ronan states that when the unicorn is killed, that it is always the innocent that are the first to die (PS15).
- Unicorn tail hair can fetch 10 galleons a hair (HBP22). Slughorn takes advantage of Hagrid's grief over the death of Aragog to procure a whole tail-full of unicorn hair from him.
- Wands with unicorn hair cores are generally the most difficult to turn to the Dark Arts (Pm).
- A unicorn was mentioned in a song heard by Newt Scamander and his friends at the speakeasy known as the Blind Pig in 1926 New York:
"The phoenix cried fat tears of pearl
When the dragon snapped up his best girl,
And the Billywig forgot to twirl
When his sweetheart left him cold,
And the unicorn done lost his horn,
And the Hippogriff feels all forlorn,
’Cause their lady loves have upped and gawn,
Or that’s what I’ve been told—" (WFT)
Unicorns have always been an alluring concept to humans. Rowling captured the essence of this beautifully. Unicorns have been prevalent in fantasy since medieval times.
Unicorns in mythology are considered symbols of purity.
In the film version of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (2009), Ginny and Harry go to the Room of Requirement to get rid of the Half-Blood Prince Potions Book and a woven unicorn tapestry is hanging over the entrance (HBP/f). The famous tapestry is part of a series called "The Hunt for the Unicorn," and in this case titled "The Unicorn in Captivity and No Longer Dead" made before the 16th century in France, and now in The Cloisters museum in New York City (wikipedia). In the book the entrance to the Room of Requirement is actually near a tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy teaching ballet to trolls (OP18). Perhaps the filmmakers were using the unicorn as a symbol of Harry and Ginny's innocent love.
Geneva, a user of the site, makes this point:
I think the unicorn entry should state that unicorns are horse-like creatures instead of just horses. Mythology describes unicorns as sort of horse shaped but they are mixed with other animals such as deer, goats, lions, even birds, and the books never specifically describe them as just horses so I feel that should be reflected here.