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

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
If anyone wants to, now is the time to vote for the next list.

 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
800px-Big_bristlecone_pine_Pinus_longaeva.jpg


#17
Pine Tree

Species: Genus Pinus (Bristlecone: Pinus longaeva)
Habitat: commonly found throughout the Northern Hemisphere
Fun stat: world record holder for age of an individual organism

Points: 85, Votes: 4, Highest: Patrick

I have to admit it took me a bit to decide how to group various evergreen trees that people voted for - this entry, being the entire Pinus genus, includes a few votes for Pine Trees in general and one specifically for the Bristlecone Pine. The genus contains 100-odd species depending on who you ask, as well as over 800 varieties or cultivars.

Many species of pine tree are long-lived, and Bristlecone Pines in particular (pictured above) are some of the longest-lived non-clonal organisms on earth. The current record holder for confirmed age is an individual tree named Methuselah, living in the White Mountains of eastern California, is 4,855 years old, meaning it sprouted in 2833 BC. Since we're talking about extreme ages, and since it didn't make the list, I'll also mention here that there's a clonal colony of Aspen trees in Utah named Pando which is likely to be over 10,000 years old (and maybe up to 80,000), but each actual above-ground tree only lives for a hundred years or so.

Meanwhile, back to pines. They're evergreen coniferous trees, and cover a wide range of statures and sizes from the 6-ft Siberian Dwarf Pine to the Ponderosa pine in Oregon which can grow up to 250 feet. Pines bear both male and female cones on the same trees, with the male cones being small short-lived packages that spread pollen which the females are the pine-cones we know containing seeds and often grow on the tree for over a year before falling.

Pines are an important plant in many ecosystems, with birds, mammals, and insects all finding food and shelter provided by the trees. Many species of moth and butterfly as well as woodpeckers, nuthatches, and squirrels particularly rely on pines. Pine trees are also widely used by humans for lumber and other crafting and building materials, and are prominent in art and literature. The seeds, known as pine nuts, are also edible.

With pine nuts, basil, and several oils available we can now make a really good pesto from this Top 50!
 

Falselogic

Lapsed Threadcromancer
(they/them)
The exact location of Methuselah is a closely guarded secret as there is fear that if it was public knowledge, hikers and other would knowingly or unknowingly kill the tree.

This is why we can't have nice things.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
The exact location of Methuselah is a closely guarded secret as there is fear that if it was public knowledge, hikers and other would knowingly or unknowingly kill the tree.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Apparently this was only true until a couple years ago, when people managed to use old National Geographic photos and documentary videos to track it down. Fortunately it's still there!
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
800px-I%27m_groot.jpg


#15 (tie)
Groot

Species: Flora colossus
Habitat: originally Planet X, now mostly spaceships
AKA: Monarch of Planet X, Seed of Slaughter, Tree
Created by: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
First Appearance: Tales to Astonish #13 (1960), reintroduced in Annihilation: Conquest in 2006

Points: 91, Votes: 3, Highest: Johnny Unusual

I AM GROOT. I am Groot. I am Groot? I am Groot! Groot.

*ahem* Sorry.

Groot, and its species Flora colossus, are a type of sentient tree creature that hails from Planet X. Although to most beings there speech sounds only like repetitions of the phrase "I am Groot", they are in fact highly intelligent species with advanced knowledge of extra-dimensional engineering - their true language is conveyed through subtle inflection and tone.

Groot's first contact with humanity was as a monstrous antagonist, an invader who intended to conquer the Earth. Later meetings have been on friendlier terms, with Groot first joining SHIELD's Howling Commandos, and then taking up a more permanent association with the Guardians of the Galaxy. He often works in partnership with Rocket Raccoon, who seems to understand his language better than most.

Whether these Groots are different incarnations of the same individual or merely members of the species with the same name is not entirely clear. What is clear is that Groot can be regrown from small fragments of itself, down to a twig or even a splinter, making it nearly immortal. In addition to being very strong and in possession of powerful prehensile vines, Groot has sometimes been known to control other plants, and also to take root and grow to enormous size.
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(he "Sabe" / she "Kali")
yay!
At first I thought that folks' forgetting about or shying away from fictional plants would lead to my fake plant picks not making the list, but once I saw Pikmins and Mana Trees showing up, I figured at least this one would make the cut. Likely more!
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
Groot is okay in the comics but the first Guardians movie made him great. His emotional arc is kinda finished in the first movie and his later appearances are mostly just comedy, but it's still good stuff.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
1280px-Sugar_Maple-Acer_saccharum-Comfort_Maple_Conservation_Area-Town_of_Pelham-Ontario-OHAR5725-20221023_%281%29.jpg


#15 (tie)
Maple Tree

Species: genus Acer (Sugar Maple: Acer saccharum)
Habitat: temperate zones across the Northern hemisphere
AKA: the seeds may be knowns as Samaras, Maple Keys, Helicopters, Whirlybirds, or Polynoses
Fun stat: there are about 132 species, but Japanese maples alone have over 1000 cultivars

Points: 91, Votes: 4, Highest: Purple

We had a couple votes specifically for the Sugar Maple, and some generic Maples with a shoutout to fall foliage, so pictured above is a sugar maple in fall colors that also happens to be one of the oldest maples in Canada at about 500 years old.

Maples are a genus of trees and shrubs that mostly have palmate/lobed leaves and characteristic winged seeds that spin as they fall, allowing wider dispersal on the wind. Many grow from 40 to well over 100 feet, though some varieties are much shorter. They're mostly deciduous and many varieties are known for their striking variety of fall colors, to the point where they can be an important draw for tourism. In Japan the custom of viewing fall maple foliage is known as momijigari, and it's also a common activity in the US, particularly in New England, Appalachia, and the Northwest.

Due to their wide range of statures and leaf colors, maples are popular garden and landscape plants, and are also a popular choice for bonsai. Larger maples are used for their timber, and sugar maple wood in particular is used for bowling pins and alley lanes, pool cues, butcher blocks, and recurve bows. Maple is also suitable for musical instruments and is used in most instruments in the violin family as well as electric guitar necks, drums, and bassoons. Dried maple wood is often used for smoking food, and maple charcoal is an important part in the process of making Tennessee whiskey.

And, of course, they can be tapped for their sap which is boiled down into maple syrup, with sugar maples unsurprisingly being most used for their higher sugar content. It can be further processed into maple sugar or maple taffy, and is an important industry in Quebec.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
I had maple and especially sugar maple at #16 on my list. I mean what would breakfast even be like without that species? (And it's also good for other meals. A few months ago I got some nice maple walnut ice cream from the grocery store.)

When I was younger I would often throw the seeds so that they would boomerang backwards.

And did you know that sirop d'érable is French for maple syrup?
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
pic7107623.jpg


#14
Shambling Mound

Species: Large plant, unaligned
Habitat: forest, swamp
AKA: Shambler
Fun stats: Str 18, Dex 8, Con 16, Int 5, Wis 10, Cha 5, AC 15, HP 136, Spd 20ft

Points: 95, Votes: 3, Highest: gahitsu

A large, moving, predatory mound of rotting vegetation, found in the Forgotten Realms and related worlds.

Skills: Stealth +2
Damage Resistances: Cold, Fire
Damage Immunities: Lightning
Condition Immunities: Blinded, Deafened, Exhaustion
Senses: Blindsight 60 ft. (blind beyond this radius), Passive Perception 10

Lightning Absorption Whenever the shambling mound is subjected to lightning damage, it takes no damage and regains a number of hit points equal to the lightning damage dealt.
- Actions -
Multiattack The shambling mound makes two slam attacks. If both attacks hit a Medium or smaller target, the target is grappled (escape DC 14), and the shambling mound uses its Engulf on it.
Slam Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage.
Engulf The shambling mound engulfs a Medium or smaller creature grappled by it. The engulfed target is blinded, restrained, and unable to breathe, and it must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw at the start of each of the mound’s turns or take 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the mound moves, the engulfed target moves with it. The mound can have only one creature engulfed at a time.

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SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(he "Sabe" / she "Kali")
ok I feel a little bad for Groot, popularity exceeded--just barely--by a much more generic monster, ha.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Mandragora_autumnalis1432.JPG


#13
Mandrake

Species: Genus Madragora, especially Mandragora officinarum; sometimes also Bryonia alba and Podophyllum poltatum
Habitat: mainly around the Mediterranean, with other species in the middle east and China
AKA: Mandragora, main-de-gloire, Alraune, Pisdifje
Fun stat: That last name is Dutch for "brain thief"

Points: 100, Votes: 5, Highest: Mogri

Like the Belladonna we had earlier, the Mandragora is another group of plants in the Nightshade family mainly known for the fun toxic chemicals it produces. This time, though, the theming is augmented by the structure of the plant, which all include thick tap-roots that often divide into two sections on the way down, giving the appearance of humanoid legs under the ground. The creepy appearance when pulled up plus the fact that the toxins contained within can cause delirium and hallucinations are a perfect recipe for all kinds of fun folklore and legends.

A common legend is that when mandrake roots are dug up, they scream and kill anyone within earshot. One way to get around this and harvest the roots was to tie them to an animal which would then pull them from the ground. The roots were sought after for use in various potions and magical spells. Several cultures considered them to be an aphrodisiac or fertility aid, and in Europe they were thought to to help witches fly. They actual saw use in folk medicine for their anesthetic properties, being used for surgery and to relieve pain.

Their humanoid resemblance led some alchemists, including Eliphas Levi, to speculate that they may indicate a plant origin for mankind, and with the right treatment one might make them walk and speak. This may be part of the inspiration for many walking plant-root monsters and characters we see today like our Pikmin from earlier or Pokemon's Oddish. Here's a delightful excerpt on how to make yourself a little plant monster from Jean-Baptiste Pitois' The History and Practice of Magic:

Would you like to make a Mandragora, as powerful as the homunculus (little man in a bottle) so praised by Paracelsus? Then find a root of the plant called bryony. Take it out of the ground on a Monday (the day of the moon), a little time after the vernal equinox. Cut off the ends of the root and bury it at night in some country churchyard in a dead man's grave. For 30 days, water it with cow's milk in which three bats have been drowned. When the 31st day arrives, take out the root in the middle of the night and dry it in an oven heated with branches of verbena; then wrap it up in a piece of a dead man's winding-sheet and carry it with you everywhere.

800px-Mandragoras_454_Dodoens_1583.png
 
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Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Mandrake roots and Mandragoras also show up in several vidya games, notably Castlevania:

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The Alra Une line of enemies also takes its name from the German word for Mandragora.

1000
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Mandragoras are also an iconic enemy in FFXI and appeared with the exact same design in XII and XIV as well:
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A bit less memorably they appeared as this weird thing in FFVII:
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And something much more like their traditional appearance in Four Heroes of Light:
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And another fun design in FFIX:
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Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
They appear early on in Delicious in Dungeon. I have heard that the new adaptation is faithful to the book, so I assume they are in there too.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
1200px-New_Super_Mario_Bros._U_Deluxe_Fire_Flower.png


#12
Fire Flower

Species: Nintendiflorus infernus?
Habitat: found in the Mushroom Kingdom and other worlds, often trapped in blocks
AKA: Fireflower, Flame Flower

Points: 102, Votes: 4, Highest: Mogri

The Fire Flower is a magical flower native to the Mushroom Kingdom which tends to impart fiery powers to those who come in contact with it, generally allowing them to produce fireball projectiles from their hands until the next time they're damaged. In some cases, instead of bestowing its powers innately, it is instead wielded and produces a stream of flame from the blossom until it runs out of energy. Notably, the fire produced by these flowers is so potent it can even be used underwater.

Most Fire Flowers grow a single stem topped by one large flower with concentric red and yellow petals, but some varieties grow flowers that look more like a tulip or have other colors. Variant sub-species are also known which have affinities other than fire, such as the Super Flower (produces Super Balls), the Ice Flower (ice balls, unsurprisingly), and the Gold Flower (golden fireballs, which turn defeated enemies into Gold Coins).

But enough talk, have at you here's a whole bunch of fire flowers:
Fire_Flower_SMB.gif
Fire_Flower-SMB3-sprite.png
Fire_Flower_SMW.gif
YoshiNES-FireFlower.png
SML2FireFlower.png
SMAS_SMB_Fire_Flower.gif
YoshisSafari-FireFlower.png
PaperMario_Items_FireFlower.png
SMA2_Fire_Flower_sprite.gif
SMA4_Fire_Flower_sprite.png
Bro_flower.png
SpriteFleurNSMB.png
FireFlowerSprite.png
Fire_Flower_Sprite_M%26L3.png
NSMBW_Fire_Flower_Icon.png
NSMBW_Fire_Flower_Sprite.png
NewFireFlower.png
FireFlowerTrophy3DS.png
Fire_Flower_PMTOK_icon.png



1600px-TSMBM_Fire_Flower_screenshot.png
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
I feel like I'm the highest vote on most of the things I voted for 🤔
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Huh, I never really noticed that Fire Flowers have two totally different designs.

I never really cared for the fireball upgrade; most Mario games have a raccoon tail/cape/etc. that eclipses it. But, I just played through Super Mario Bros. Deluxe (having never really played SMB past a handful of stages before), and they are so good in the original game. Going into a stage fully powered up makes a huge difference, and losing it really hurts.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Huh, I never really noticed that Fire Flowers have two totally different designs.

I never really cared for the fireball upgrade; most Mario games have a raccoon tail/cape/etc. that eclipses it. But, I just played through Super Mario Bros. Deluxe (having never really played SMB past a handful of stages before), and they are so good in the original game. Going into a stage fully powered up makes a huge difference, and losing it really hurts.

This is the Metal Blade effect, I think. Fire Flower is a pretty good power-up in most any game where it makes an appearance, but it does nothing to help with platforming; meanwhile, your capes and raccoon tails give you a more limited combat boost as well as the ability to avoid enemies altogether. Put a raccoon tail in the first couple Mario games, and the Fire Flower would lose a lot of value there, too. (Then again, I think fire power would still come out ahead compared to later games, largely thanks to Hammer Bros and later Bowsers having such amazing area denial in their initial incarnations.)
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Main-qimg-98c7a44db05e65639871a09e7752fae2-c.jpg


#11
Swamp Thing

Habitat: bayous of Louisiana
AKA: Avatar of the Green. Formerly Alec Holland, Alex Olsen, Albert Höllerer, Tefé Holland, Allan Hallman, Aaron Hayley, Calbraith Rodgers, Levi Kamei
First Appearance: House of Secrets #92 (1971)
Created By: Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson
Fun stat: The Saga of the Swamp Thing was the first mainstream comic book series to completely abandon the Comics Code Authority's approval.

Points: 105, Votes: 4, Highest: Johnny Unusual

Swamp Thing is a bunch of plants in the shape of a man, or a man in the shape of a bunch of plants, it depends which Swamp Thing you're talking about, and when. In either case, it's a super-strong creature that also has the ability to control all plants, and to grow any body it needs from any plant matter available. It will fiercely protect its swamp home, but also in many cases the environment in general. I had been known to fight to protect humanity from external and supernatural threats, but will also fight humans when necessary to protect nature.

Swamp Thing is an avatar of "The Green", a dimension which connects all plant life on Earth and is ruled over bu the Parliament of Trees. It has tangled with other Elemental forces and at one point gained mastery over pretty much all of them, though that doesn't seem to have stuck. He has crossed paths with many other DC characters, notably John Constantine, and recently was an ongoing member of the Justice League Dark team.

According to an anecdote from creator Len Wein, "I didn't have a title for it, so I kept referring to it as 'that swamp thing I'm working on'. And that's how it got its name!" Later on Alan Moore wrote an award-winning set of stories for the character, and he's also been written by Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, and Brian K Vaughan.
 
I was a vote for the Fire Flower! It's definitely not just due to enemy attacks or lack of alternative power-ups that make the OG fire flower so broken (though they are part of it). The trajectory of the fireball in SMB1 is such that it's incredibly easy to hit what you want when you want, and they nerfed it in varying ways in every subsequent game.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Len Wein and Alan Moore's respective runs are really good stuff. The original Swamp Thing run is a lot of fun, though really loses it's way towards the end (it really tries to be a more conventional superhero book in it's last issues). In Moore's run, he becomes an all-powerful elemental. Rick Veitch had a decent run but it was truncated and eventually he left around the time they wouldn't let him do his "Swamp Thing meets Jesus" story in a serial where the character is travelling through time.

He has crossed paths with many other DC characters, notably John Constantine
Not only that, he was originally a character for the Swamp Thing series, a sort of untrustworthy guide figure who wouldn't get his own book until a few years later.

Swamp Thing really does go on an interesting journey, letting go of his "humanity" (the concept of having a body and once being a man) but never letting go of being humane... though he does kill a few evil humans real ugly.

Also, he can grow hallucinogenic tubers out of his back. So that's neat.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
800px-Mint-leaves-2007.jpg


#10
Mint

Species: genus Mentha
Habitat: all over the dang place; prefers moist soils
AKA: pick an adjective or noun and put it before "mint", it probably exists
Fun stat: 83% of the world's commercial peppermint is grown in Morocco

Points: 107, Votes: 4, Highest: Daikaiju

This includes both generic votes of Mint and a couple for Peppermint, which is actually a hybrid named Mentha x piperita, derived from a cross between Mentha spicata, spearmint, and Mentha aquatica, watermint. The Mentha genus only has a couple dozen recognized separate species in it, but hybrids and cultivars run easily into the hundreds. A lot of the other flavored mints like Chocolate, Lemon, and Strawberry are variants of peppermint, while Green, Curly, and Mojito mints are variants of spearmint.

All the mints are aromatic perennial herbs which grow easily and spread quickly through runners - meaning they'll take over your whole dang garden if you give them half a chance. They're good at repelling pest insects, notably mosquitos - this is due to the plant's oil containing a very high menthol content, which also gives it its distinctive aroma and flavor.

That aroma has led mint to be used by humans since ancient times, when the Greeks knew it as the "herb of hospitality". In Europe mint leaves would be strewn across dirt floors of buildings to disguise other odors. In modern times the extract is used in many cosmetics and some perfumes, as well as toothpaste, chewing gum, and mouthwash.

And of course it's used as a distinctive flavoring in food - particularly candies, ice cream, teas, jellies, and alcoholic beverages. In the middle east it's commonly used in lamb dishes, and in Touareg tea in north Africa.
 
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