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

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
1280px-Atropa_belladonna_074.jpg


#33
Belladonna

Species: Atropa belladonna
Habitat: native to temperate climes across Europe to Western Asia
AKA: Deadly Nightshade, Divale, Dwale, Banewort, Great Morel, Dwayberry
Fun stat: just gonna continue the AKAs - Devil's Berries, Death Cherries, Beautiful Death, Devil's Herb

Points: 57, Votes: 3, Highest: gahitsu

Belladonna is a small bush with lovely purple flowers and shiny black berries that is known primarily for being poisonous as heck. Not all nightshades are deadly - tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and chili peppers are all members of the family that are great for eating (unless you're allergic to them). But this one contains all manner of fun toxins, both in the berries and the foliage, including atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. The toxins cause delirium and hallucinations, and can quickly become deadly by disrupting the parasympathetic nervous system's ability to regulate important bodily functions like breathing and heart rate. In non-fatal doses it can also lead to complications of pregnancy, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, and psychiatric disorders.

The word "belladonna" of course means "beautiful woman" in Italian, and comes from the fact that the plant was once used to make eye drops used to dilate women's eyes, which was considered attractive. Needless to say this was a bit dangerous and is no longer practiced. Atropine extracted from Belladonna does have some medical uses as a sedative and treatment for irritable bowel, but its safety and efficacy is debated, and over-the-counter use is illegal in the US.

The plant has historically been used for its poisonous properties since ancient times, when it was used to create poisonous arrows for hunting. In classical times it was used as the poison of choice against such personages as Agrippa the Younger and possible even Emperor Caesar Augustus himself. In some folklores it is known as part of a brew used by witches to help them fly, probably owing to its hallucinogenic properties.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
1200px-Super_Mushroom_Artwork_-_Super_Mario_3D_World.png


#32
Super Mushroom

Species: Amanita gigantea?
Habitat: native to the Mushroom Kingdom, invasive in other kingdoms and worlds wherever heroic plumbers are found
AKA: Super Kinoko, Power-Up Mushroom
Fun fact: its sound effect is a very fast high-pitch version of the Goal Clear jingle

Points: 58, Votes: 2, Highest: Johnny Unusual

Probably the most iconic power-up in all of video game-dom, the Super Mushroom is, like the Toads we saw earlier, vaguely based on Amanita muscaria with its white-spotted red cap, although in the original Super Mario Bros they were brown with red spots. Speaking of SMB, the original English manual referred to them as "Magic Mushrooms", a localization choice which was quickly dropped for obvious reasons.

The life-cycle of the Super Mushroom is mysterious, as most are found trapped in brick blocks, then enjoy a brief stint of sliding along the ground before being consumed or falling into a pit. Magic is presumably involved. When ingested the usually cause a significant increase in size, or sometimes just impart regained health.

A Super Mushroom briefly appears as an item left at a lost-and-found in Wreck-It Ralph.

SMB_Supermushroom.png
SMBLL_Super_Mushroom_Sprite.png
Mushroomsmb3.png
MushroomSMW.png
SMAS_SMB_Super_Mushroom_Sprite.png
Mushroom_Board_Play_MP1.png
Mushroom_sm64ds.png
Mushroom_nsmb.png
NSMB_Super_Mushroom_Sprite.png
NSMBW_Mushroom_Icon_Sprite.png
120px-Mushroom_model_MRSOH.png
 
I was the other vote for aloe. As someone with pasty and sensitive skin it's a pretty important plant.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
mants.jpg


#30 (tie)
Man-Thing

Habitat: The Florida Everglades
AKA: Theodore Sallis, Vorgornus Koth
First Appearance: Marvel's Savage Tales #1 (1971)
Created By: Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Gray Morrow
Fun Fact: The second Man-Thing story was by the same author as a couple early Swamp Thing stories
Points: 59, Votes: 2, Highest: Johnny Unusual

You may notice the stat box borrowing a few lines from the Comics list, as we hit our first (but not last) comic book plant! Man-Thing is a Marvel character dating back to the 70s. His origin involves biochemist Ted Sallis, who was working in Florida with yet another group trying to recreate Captain America's super soldier serum. Of course, things went south when they were attacked by the terrorist group AIM and in desperation he injected himself with an incomplete serum while also crashing his car into what turned out to be a particularly magical section of swamp. All that super-science and magic and general swampiness combined to give rise to Man-Thing, a slow-moving but super strong creature made entirely of plants.

Man-Thing lost most of its former human memories, intelligence, and ability to speak, but retains a strong sense of empathy and the ability to sense the intentions of others. Malice, evil, and fear make it feel pain and cause it to become enraged and secrete a powerful corrosive acid. This antipathy to evil and empathy for those in need often causes Man-Thing to fall into the role of hero and guardian, but the difficulty of communication means it seldom lasts long on teams and tends not to interact with human society more than necessary.
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(he "Sabe" / she "Kali")
I voted for some similar characters but didn't know this one existed! cool!
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I love Man-Thing. In the 70s, there were three Marvel c-list horror character antiheroes who were basically just... quasi-sentient. Which is a really hard thing to make a lead, let alone three of them. They are the Living Mummy (who is not conventionally sentient in more recent appearances) Simon Garth AKA the Zombie (a zombie, in the classic pre-Romero sense) and Man-Thing. Man-Thing is the best of the lot and it owes a lot to those big eyes.

Man-Thing-Marvel-Comics.jpg


They are just big and cow-like. It's both kind of endearing and kind of scary. It can be cute that nothing is going on behind them like a dumb animal or that nothing is going on like a Lovecraftian horror or a Michael Myers. Usually he's on the side of good but he barely even think, though sometimes old memories will determine "moral" actions. He's not like the Hulk because you can reason with him. This guy, you just have to think unafraid and unmalignant thoughts, which isn't easy considering he can corrode you to death with a touch.

I will say I liked him in his appearance in the Werewolf by Night special but it's more because I like on the page. But what was there was a bit more of a generic "good guy monster", even though he really kills some bad guys ugly. I like that character but I prefer the more ambiguous and kind of creepy thing that feels but doesn't really think and is just a wondering nothing until it reacts to human thoughts.

Fun fact, his off-kilter horror adventure comic was also the first appearance of Howard the Duck. It also introduced Korrek, the Peanut Butter Barbarian but sadly that character never really caught on.

EDIT: Oh, right worth noting that Man-Thing appeared only a few months before Swamp Thing... but both are really homages to the weird and somewhat forgotten Golden Age Comic Book swamp monster The Heap.
the_heap_9.jpg

Who also grew a trunk.

329764-147207-heap.jpg
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
1280px-Bramley%27s_Seedling_Apples.jpg


#30 (tie)
Apple

Species: Malus domestica
Habitat: temperate zones around the Northern hemisphere
Fun stat: there are over 7500 cultivars of domesticated apple

Points: 59, Votes: 2, Highest: Purple

Apples are a domesticated deciduous tree growing 6 to 15 feet tall when cultivated, but up to 30 feet in the wild. They bloom with pale flowers in the spring, which produce the familiar fruit in late summer or autumn. While typical commercial apples are about 3 inches in diameter, some varieties are grown larger (especially in Japan), and smaller ones are generally used for juice or other products.

The wild ancestor of the domestic apple is found in mountainous regions of Central Asia, in Kazakhstan and surrounding countries, where it was first domesticated thousands of years ago. From there the Silk Road carried them across Asia and Europe, and they were later introduced to the Americas following colonization (though carb apples were already found there). Since the characteristics of the fruit tend to be unpredictable when grown from seed, most cultivated apples are propagated by grafting branches onto rootstock, to create a clone of the parent tree.

New apple cultivars are constantly being produced by crossing existing lines and by mutation. In the mid twentieth century many were bred primarily with the goal of storing and shipping well, but more recently there has been a move back to breeding for taste. For example the now-popular Honeycrisp apple, prized for its juiciness and sweet-tart flavor, was only released in 1991. Patent royalties on the cultivar have generated $10 million split between the University of Minnesota and its individual inventors.

Apples feature heavily in cultural symbolism the world over, standing in for everything from life, health, fertility, and love to temptation and evil, and are particularly prominent in certain parts of Norse, Greek, and Christian mythology. Figuring out exactly what was an apple, though, is complicated by the fact that some cultures and languages have used the word for "apple" as a generic term for almost any kind of fruit, especially if imported or foreign. The apple is truly the Fruit of Fruits.

Purple said:
Get some cider. Some nice mulled cider. Heat that up. Add some cinnamon.
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
If I had realized fictional flora was on the table, my list would have been much different.


SIDENOTE: Mushrooms are not plant or animals, but closer to animals at any rate.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
My list was pretty heavy in fictional entries, and I was a bit worried when the first 10 winners were real world plants.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
The mix of real and fictional entries is really interesting.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Yeah, the nominations post clarified both that we were including real and fictional plants, and that we're folding in mushrooms and other edge cases that are "not animal or mineral" kind of things. But it's all good!
 

RT-55J

space hero for hire
(He/Him + RT/artee)
If somebody really wanted to cause chaos, they would have nominated sponges (which are, believe it or not, animals).
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Te6-PIAGf-Oap8-Ee-GDV2gnrd1-JHk-Y2-Ca-Pjjt-is-Eo-IFw4.webp


#29
The Mana Tree

Species: goddess
Habitat: the world of Mana (sometimes known as Fa'Diel), often in the Mana Sanctuary or Pure Land
AKA: Tree of Mana

Points: 60, Votes: 2, Highest: Kirin

The Mana Tree is an enormous, magical tree that is the source of all Mana and/or magic in the world, and is generally an incarnation of the Mana Goddess. It's so huge that it's often an ecosystem unto itself, supporting numerous other plants and animals among its branches. It exerts varying amounts of control over the world around it, sometimes sending heroes on quests and either directing them to or providing them with the sacred Mana Sword. It has a tendency to get destroyed during cataclysmic events, either at the hands of villains seeking power, or through self-sacrifice. When it dies, all Mana may temporarily leave the world, but a new sprout grows over a long period of time to replace it in a cycle of reincarnation. As a part of this life cycle, a human or humanoid woman must sometimes sacrifice herself to become a new incarnation of the Mana Goddess.

The iconic Mana Tree art we all know and love is by Japanese illustrator Hiroo Isono, and is emblematic of his lush style. He drew inspiration from travels all over the world, including to the Amazon, and some have speculated that the Mana Tree may be inspired by the Kapok Tree which grows there:

kapok-tree-donald-lanham.jpg
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
1280px-Mature_Rice_%28India%29_by_Augustus_Binu.jpg


#27 (tie)
Rice

Species: Oryza sativa
Habitat: derived from wild species native to China
Fun stat: with a relative compact genome, rice is known for being easy to genetically modify

Points: 62, Votes: 2, Highest: Mogri

Rice is a tropical grass, growing a slender stalk around 3 feet tall which produced hundreds of tiny flowers that mature into edible grain. It was domesticated in ancient China probably some 9000 years ago. Its use spread to India and Japan in ancient times, and later to Europe and the Americas. It comes in two major varieties - japonica is short-grained and sticky, while indica is long-grained and nonsticky. Some strains are grown in dry fields but others thrive in fields that are several inches submerged for much of its life cycle.

Aside from short vs long grain, the varieties of rice we see on shelves are mostly due to different levels of processing. Rice comes off the plant in an inedible husk or chaff which must be removed; the layer underneath is bran and if you leave that on you have brown rice. Remove the bran and the germ (essentially the plant embryo) and you're left with white rice, which gets whiter the more its polished to remove bran residue.

As mentioned in the box, rice has been a target for genetic modification - an early well-known example is "Golden Rice", modified to include high Vitamin A content to address a deficiency present in many areas of the world. Since then other projects have targeted drought and flood tolerance, increased yields, salt tolerance, and strains that reduce the methane produced by rice paddies to reduce their contribution to greenhouse gas buildup.

Rice has of course become a staple food around the world, and various varieties are used in dishes such as risotto, sushi, and basmati, just to name a few. While not as much as beans, it still contains a noticeable amount of protein, and almost no fat. Rice also contains no gluten, making it suitable for those with gluten intolerance.
 

Baudshaw

Unfortunate doesn't begin to describe...
(he/him)
Honestly, I would've expected it to be higher.

I wonder when Ancient Fruit from Stardew Valley will come? Or maybe Stardrops
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
1280px-Ipomoea_batatas_006.JPG


#27 (tie)
Sweet Potato

Species: Ipomoea batatas
Habitat: native to tropical regions of the Americas
AKA: Batata, Apichu, Kumara, Boniato. Also sometimes Yam, but it's not really a Yam
Fun stat:

Points: 62, Votes: 2, Highest: Lady

The sweet potato is actually a very different plant from that other potato, in a whole different Family. In fact, it's most closely related to Morning Glories, which becomes obvious if you happen to see them as plants in bloom - they're almost indistinguishable above ground. The sweet potato is a perennial vine which can grow year-round in the tropics, but has to be harvested before first frost in temperate climates. Its closest wild relatives have relatively thin, barely-edible roots, so we can once again thank natives of Central America who domesticated and bread the sweet tubers we know today well over 5000 years ago. It spread from there to South America, the Caribbean, and even Polynesia all the way to New Zealand long before the age a Western exploration - a fact which supports the idea that Polynesian sailors made contact with the Americans before Europeans got there.

Later on of course they were introduced to pretty much the entire rest of the world, and quickly became an important staple in far-flung regions due to their hardy nature and high nutritional content. Although they have slightly less energy density than cereals like rice and corn, they have considerably more nutrients, especially Vitamins A, C, B6, manganese, potassium and so on, in addition to plenty of dietary fiber. Dried slices of sweet potato are a staple in Uganda, baked whole tubers are a street food in Egypt and China, they're a common tempura ingredient in Japan, and a component of cellophane noodles and candied slices in Korea. On All Saint's Day in Spain they serve roasted sweet potato and chestnuts, they're served alongside ceviche in Peru, and made into a hard sweet jelly in Argentina. They're distilled into a spirit, Imo Jōchū, in Japan, put in salad in the Philippines, and made into a pastry in Taiwan. And of course in the US we have sweet potato casserole, sweet potato pie, and sweet potato fries.

It's just good eatin'!
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
When I was a kid we only has sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving, and they were mushy and served with marshmallows. Now I prepare them myself by slicing them thin & baking in oil, salt & pepper. They are so much better!
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
When I was a kid we only has sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving, and they were mushy and served with marshmallows. Now I prepare them myself by slicing them thin & baking in oil, salt & pepper. They are so much better!
This so much. Absolutely hated them until I had a roasted one and was shocked. Great in soups and purees too.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Running a little behind so I'm gonna toss up a quick Honorable Mention; coming in at number 52 was the Weed Pokemon, Oddish. Unlike some other plant type pokemon that look or act more like animals with some plant bits attached, Oddish is just a mobile root vegetable - pretty much the same game plan as Pikmin come to think of it.

800px-Pok%C3%A9dex_Image_Oddish_SV_Blueberry.png
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
1280px-Stockholm-lilac.jpg


#26
Lilac

Species: Syringa vulgaris and other Syringa species
Habitat: native to rocky hills of the Balkan Peninsula
AKA: Common Lilac
Fun stat: the word "lilac" was first used as a color name in English in 1775

Points: 66, Votes: 2, Highest: Issun

The lilac is a large flowering shrub or small tree known, of course, for its pretty and strongly scented flower clusters. It's actually in the olive family, but only develops winged seeds in a hard capsule rather than an edible fruit. It's been prized as a garden plant as far back as the Ottoman Empire, from whence they were introduced into northern European gardens in the 16th century. Most common garden cultivars grow around 14 feet tall, though other varieties can grow over twenty feet. If left to its own devices, a lilac tends to flower heavily every other year, but they can be made to flower more by trimming off the dead flower heads before they develop seeds.

Some varieties of lilac are used as traditional medicine in Asia to treat ailments ranging from cough to vomiting. In Greece and nearby islands, lilacs are associated with Easter. The lilac is the state flower of New Hampshire, and there are lilac festivals in Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, Michigan, Ontariao, Alberta, and in Spokane, Washington, which is also known as the "Lilac City".
 
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Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Lilac was on my long list. Love them, they were all over my neighborhood in Colorado and delighted me every spring. Here in Oregon we have one in our yard and a few around the neighborhood. Just a peaceful smell that immediately puts me at ease, as it means I'm chilling at home or going for a walk. Honeysuckle was my previous smell in that same brain place as it was around both my home and dorm in Los Angeles.
 
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