Every Thursday, Nathan over at Fantasy Review Barn hosts a weekly party where blogs set out with Diana Wynne Jones’ hilarious book The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel in hand to explore all the tropes from their favorite stories. So sit back and enjoy the fun.
9d April, 2015 – UNIQUE FLORA
Self-explanatory. If you know of a plant that is either not on earth, or doesn’t act the same way in fantasyland as it does on earth, then you can consider it unique.
Wow, this should open up lots of really cool and unique answers, don’t you think? Let’s see if that is true.
VUL NUT VINE — DISCWORLD
“The vul nut vine was particularly exceptional in that it could flourish as many as eight years prior to its seed actually being sown. Vul nut wine was reputed to give certain drinkers an insight into the future which was, from the nut’s point of view, the past. Strange but true.” Terry Pratchett Source
Yeah, this is one really weird plant, but Pratchett came up with it, so what else would you expect.
Buy The Color of Magic (Discworld Book 1) at Amazon.
ALIANTHA — THE FIRST CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT
>”Aliantha, also called Treasure-Berries, are a type of gnarled waist-high bush with leaves spread and pointed like a holly’s. Small viridian blooms cover the plant with blue-green fruit the size of blueberries.
The berries are highly nutritious and a blessing of the Land, being the last to die and the first to grow anywhere in the land, except the Spoiled Plains. A person could survive on only a few of these berries a day. They have a tangy-peach flavor.
Aliantha can cause a sickness of the mind if taken in quantities too large, such as causing Thomas to rape Lena.
The people of the Land have a saying which goes: Eat and spread the seeds over the Earth so that the aliantha may spread.
When people eat the berries they ensure they spread the seeds so later generations can enjoy the berries.” Source
ENTS — LORD OF THE RINGS
What can one say about Ents?
They are a race of sentient tree-like beings who live for thousands of years, speak to trees as well as other creatures, and can get pretty scary when they get angry.
I’m not sure if they are technically “flora” per se, but they are close enough for me to put them on this list.
Buy The Lord of the Rings: One Volume at Amazon.
MANDRAKE — HARRY POTTER
“A Mandrake, also known as Mandragora, is a plant which has a root that looks like a human (like a baby when the plant is young, but maturing as the plant grows). When mature, its cry can be fatal to any person who hears it.” Source
I’m not much of a Harry Potter aficionado, but I’ve watched the movies with my kids. And I have to admit that these things really freaked me out. Not because they were scary but because a plant that looks like a human baby was a bit disconcerting to me for whatever reason. I don’t know, guess I’m just strange like that.
Buy Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter, Book 1) at Amazon.
SARLACC — STAR WARS
The sarlacc was a semi-sentient, plant-like, omnivorous creature found on several planets across the galaxy. Not much was known about this creature, but it was unique in terms of galactic species. It lived to be tens of thousands of years old, and reproduced by spores. One particular specimen of sarlacc was located in the Great Pit of Carkoon on Tatooine. They are most famous for the fact that (according to Jabba the Hut) “In [its] belly, you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a…thousand years.”
Sounds like a plant I definitely want to stay away from.
Buy Star Wars: Trilogy (25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition) at Amazon.
PLANTMEN — THE BARSOOM, OR JOHN CARTER OF MARS SERIES
These really strange creatures are also sentient plant life. Now, John Carter encounters lots of wild creatures during his adventures on Barsoom, but the plantmen were among the scariest: Ravenous, omnivorous, with mouths in their palms; these guys never gave up in a fight until every last one of them was dead.
I mean, some people could label these guys a “race” of beings instead of flora, but I seem to recall that Edgar Rice Burroughs took great pains to make his readers understand that these were indeed plants, not animals. Perhaps, my memory is tricking me here, but I’m going to put them on the list.
OLD FATHER TREE — THE BLACK COMPANY
In book three of the series, the remaining members of The Black Company and their “White Rose” have hidden themselves in The Plains of Fear, because it has such weird flora and fauna that no one (not even Lady’s people) want to come anywhere near it. And at the center of the whole chaotic mess is a large tree. A tree that is called Old Father and can shoot lightning as well as other really exotic stuff. Eventually, it is learned that the tree is a god from another dimension who is upon the world to guard against the resurrection of some evil entity, but to me, he is just some really unique flora.
I have to tell you this part of the series had some weird stuff. But it just made everything even better.
THE TREES OF HYPERION — HYPERION CANTOS
Tesla trees. Treeships. Dyson Trees. The menacing, half-mechanical, half-organic four armed Shrike. Plus all the other very unique flora that I’m completely overlooking. Why should I pick only one?
Buy Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, Book 1) at Amazon.
THE EARTH — HOTHOUSE: THE LONG AFTERNOON OF EARTH
This sci-fi classic is set in a far future where the earth has locked rotation with a swollen Sun. All the increased light and heat has caused the Earth to be covered by tropical forests that have bred a vegetable kingdom, where the plants are in a constant frenzy of growth and decay. These plants (lots of omnivores among them) have evolved into more sentient beings with primitive nervous systems and eyes. The few remaining humans live on the edge of extinction, clinging to life within the canopy layer of a giant banyan tree that covers a whole continent!
There were so many unique flora in this old gem that I can’t remember them all, but I do remember that “unique” was one way to describe them.
Buy Hothouse at Amazon.
Honestly, this weeks Tough Traveling list was pretty hard for me. Guess I don’t pay enough attention to the flora in my stories. So please enlighten me on what fantastical plants I totally forgot?
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