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Lean, Green, and Making the Scene(ry) - TT's Top 50 Plants

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
PLANTS!
IMG-2968.jpg

(illus credit: Lucille Clerc)

Not the best photo but I spent a long time putting together that puzzle over the holidays. 😅

But enough about me, we're here to talk about PLANTS. Did you know that all animals, including humans, make up less than one percent of Earth's entire biomass? Bacteria and Archaea account for about 17%, leaving a full 83% of biomass as plants and fungi. That's right, these weird greenish things that get energy from the sun or soil account for a massive majority of all life as we know it. So it's high time we focussed on them for a moment!

Thanks to last-minute submissions I made it up to 15 lists containing just over 200 distinct kinds of plants or fungi... more or less. Since this is a really broad category and I allowed votes for everything from individual specimens to species to general types, I had to make some tough calls about what to group together and what to leave separate. It'll all work out!

We've got a great set of 50 plants coming up, plus I may ask a few folks to contribute some words if they have time on rank 1 or 2 votes that didn't make the list for weekend updates. So without further ado, here come Talking Time's top favorite plants!
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
1280px-2021_Sagano_Bamboo_forest_in_Arashiyama%2C_Kyoto%2C_Japan.jpg


#50
Bamboo
Species: various in the subfamily Bambusoideae
Habitat: native to warm areas of Asia, Africa, and the Americas
AKA: Giant Cane, River Cane, 'Ohe, Take, Zhú
Fun stat: includes the world's largest grasses, some reaching over 100 feet

Points: 44, Votes: 2, Highest: Kirin

Our first plant group of the list already includes some real superlatives. As you probably already knew, bamboo is genuinely a type of grass... just, really, really big grass. It includes some of the fastest-growing plants in the world, with some species rising over three feet in a single day, which is just kind of mind-blowing.

Mature bamboo is both strong and flexible, and that combined with its rapid growth has made it a staple raw material in many areas of the world. It's uses are far too numerous to cover exhaustively, but here's a start: food (just the inner young shoots), fiber for textiles and fabrics, building material for scaffolding, support beams, walls, fencing, and gutters, fishing rods, firecrackers, staves, bows, spears, musical instruments, chopsticks, cutting boards, other kitchenware, furniture, flooring, and art. Whew.

It's also quite pretty in gardens, though you have to be careful lest its underground runners result in bamboo in far more places than you wanted it. This problem can be solved with an in-ground barrier.

Also, it's food for pandas! Relative to other plants it's high in protein and low in carbs (though with a touch of cyanide) and is also eaten by lemurs, goats, gorillas, chimpanzees, and elephants.
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Nice, a great start, bamboo was on my list.

And I want to make a couple notes about your title image for bamboo because I've been there and love it! It's Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto. An absolutely beautiful spot that I especially love going to at sunset. Often busy, but when you happen to be there when it's quiet it's lovely. I dunno if you really can hear the bamboo growing like people claim, but it's so dang peaceful.
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(he "Sabe" / she "Kali")
Nice! I thought of bamboo shortly after hitting 25, building out my rather freewheeling list, so you might count it my #26.
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(he "Sabe" / she "Kali")
I went light on the fruiting plants, in my list. I put a few that really stood out in my mind for one reason or another, but figured that your apples and oranges and cherries would be better served by a Top 50 Fruits and Veggies.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
8288058514-0fc18dca16-b.jpg


#49
Dragon's Blood Tree
Species: Dracaena cinnabari
Habitat: Socotra archipelago, Yemen, Arabian Sea
AKA: Socotra Dragon Tree
Fun fact: Its crimson sap is an abortifacient

Points: 45, Votes: 2, Highest: Kirin

I swear I can't be the highest vote for everything, but it seems to be happening a lot down here. In any event, this tree is awesome. I mean, just look at it. That's a cool tree.

In addition to its striking shape, the tree has bright red sap, hence the very metal name. This really needs another picture:

Dragon-Blood-Tree-3.jpg


The shape of the tree aids its survival in arid regions with poor soil, by funneling moisture from passing mists down from the treetop to the roots. The deep red resin derived from its sap has many uses as both a stimulant and a dye, and is still used as a varnish for violins.
 
Last edited:

Lokii

(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
The only tree I voted for seeing as it’s the only tree with a dragon on the inside. So cool and alien, it looks like something from another dimension. A tree so nice they put it in Zelda.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
That is extremely metal, despite being extremely wooden.
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(he "Sabe" / she "Kali")
I'd never heard of it before! Thread showing its educational value already!

Is it maybe supposed to be #49 though? Looks like it's one point up on bamboo.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
1024px-Glycine_max_003.JPG


#48
Soybean

Species: Glycine max
Habitat: Native to China, Japan, Korea, and Russia, now farmed anywhere with warm summers
AKA: Soya Bean, Edamame, Dàdòu, Daizu
Fun stat: Probably domesticated almost 9000 years ago in China

Points: 46, Votes: 2, Highest: ViolentVixen

It's all about the beans.

Like, the plant here is a legume, it fixes Nitrogen in the soil making it a great rotation crop, it's a perfectly nice shade of green - but the reason we all know about it is the remarkable nutrition content of its beans, which contain an exceptionally high amount of vegetable protein as well as a ton of other essential nutrients including dietary fiber, iron, manganese, phosphorus, folate, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and isoflavones. They're processed into all kinds of foods, including tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, miso paste, tempeh, and textured vegetable protein which is in turn made into all manner of vegan meat and dairy alternatives. Just don't eat them raw off the vine! They're a bit toxic to any animals with only one stomach.

With all that going for it, Soybean is an incredibly important crop - in the US it's planted acreage is almost as much as corn, and even more is planted in Brazil. Most of that isn't for human consumption though; almost 80% of soy production goes into animal fodder, mostly for chickens and pigs.

ViolentVixen (on Edamame) said:
Such a good snack. Has replaced popcorn in our household.
 

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
soybeans are a great snack! Just pop 'em right out of the pod after a quick boil and ice bath.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Vaccinium_corymbosum%2801%29.jpg


#46 (tie)
Blueberry

Species: Vaccinium Cyanococcus var
Habitat: Mostly native to central-north North America
AKA: Bilberry (Eurasian varieties), Blue Huckleberry
Fun stat: "Blueberry" actually includes over a dozen different species in the genus

Points: 47, Votes: 2, Highest: Daikaiju

Blue is a pretty uncommon color among fruits, and plants in general, but the blueberry pulls it off in style and is delicious to boot. The species included are broadly divided into "lowbush" wild-growing varieties and "highbush" cultivated ones. The former were eaten by First Nations peoples in Canada for millennia, while the latter were first developed in New Jersey in the early 1900s and have since spread to be cultivated in places as far off as Australia and New Zealand, though the US still produces 40% of the world's supply. Their nutritional content is pretty paltry next to the Soy Beans above, but they still have some Vitamin K, C, and Manganese. Wild blueberries are also an important food source for migrating birds, bears, and small mammals.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
And that wasn't a very long entry so how's about an HONORABLE MENTION for...

800px-Frozen_berries_2.jpg


Other Berries

Berries are delicious and lots of people like them, but there are so many kinds of delicious berries that the votes got spread out. A bit down the list we have:

BLACKBERRY - 2 votes - 41 points
ELDERBERRY - 1 vote - 33 points
RASPBERRY - 2 votes - 29 points (one vote for Black Raspberry)
STRAWBERRY - 1 vote - 14 points

If I added all the berry votes together, they'd have almost tied for third place on the list! But that would be a weird thing to do, because not only do they include wildly different species, many of them aren't even technically berries from a scientific definition, with the black- and rasp- ones being Aggregate Fruits for example. Technically eggplants and chili peppers are berries, though, so, just don't go making your fruit salads based on scientific categorization is what I'm saying here.
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(he "Sabe" / she "Kali")
hehe
My votes for Elderberry and Black Raspberry come from their growing in my childhood and current back yards, respectively. Good memories.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Yes, from a botanical/scientific standpoint.

(From the wikipedia article on berry.)
The common usage of the term "berry" is different from the scientific or botanical definition of a berry, which refers to a fruit produced from the ovary of a single flower where the outer layer of the ovary wall develops into an edible fleshy portion (pericarp). The botanical definition includes many fruits that are not commonly known or referred to as berries, such as grapes, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, bananas and chili peppers. Fruits commonly considered berries but excluded by the botanical definition include strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, which are aggregate fruits, and mulberries, which are multiple fruits. Watermelons and pumpkins are giant berries that fall into the category "pepos".
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Yeah, there's definitely room for sub-categories here in the future, I just figured since we've barely touched on them at all I'd start out with the whole shebang and see what happened. And even though a lot of great things didn't get overlap, I think it shaped up to be a great list! Next entry on its way in a few moments.
 
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