Wednesday Wisdom! A Quote From The Savage Garden

I have a confession to make.

I skip the introduction in every book I read. 🙁 Even my favorites that I have to read over and over, like The Savage Garden. Recently though, I was thumbing through my copy and glanced over the introduction, but some words stood out to me and I had to read more attentively.

The passage quoted below is so colorful, animated, and chilling! I can’t believe I’ve had this book for over two years and never read this! There are lots of little gems in The Savage Garden but this one is my new favorite.

Our general impression is that plants are fairly passive forms of life. Insects and animals eat them. We chop down trees to build houses, shred cabbage for coleslaw, and decorate our homes with their sex organs, which we call flowers. We eat their fruit, pull “weeds”, and make medicine out of their sap. We bleed trees for maple syrup and burn them in fireplaces. We bake them, boil them, and saute or stir-fry them. We even smoke them.

Plants can’t scream and run away, but some of them do fight back to an extent. Mushrooms can kill you and poison ivy can make you itch. Many plants defend themselves with needles and toxins or bitter tastes and bad smells.

Typically we are not afraid of plants, but humans love to project their own fears onto other life-forms. That we can do this with plants, seemingly the most passive and unfrightening of life-forms on earth, is obvious by just examining some of our popular horror movies. The Thing featured an alien humanoid plant that fed on human blood. In Day of the Triffids, walking plants were stinging humans to death in their effort to take over the world. Invasion of the Body Snatchers had plant “pods” duplicating human beings and taking over their minds and bodies. In Little Shop of Horrors, a talking plant with a sense of humor swallows people whole. That these four famous horror movies were made, and remade, reflects the unconscious fear that we all have of pretty, pulpy, passive plants. Perhaps deep within our brains, tiny neurons still fire off flashbacks of ancient, inherited memories, horrible memories of the days when our ancestors had good reason to fear plants!

316px-DayofthetriffidsSpooky and ominous, no? I thought it would be nice to share and plant that seed to plant in your brains (heh) in the spirit of Halloween. 🙂

Upon researching further, I found out that Day of the Triffids movie is actually based on a novel by John Wyndham. I’m definitely a book reader before a movie watcher, so it went immediately to my Amazon wishlist!

The term Triffid is still currently used in Great Britain to describe carnivores or any other menacing-looking plants. Cool stuff! This winter I’ll curl up with the 1950s sci-fi while my real triffids sleep peacefully through dormancy. 🙂

What are your thoughts on The Savage Garden quote, and the fiction we create that supposedly stems from an ancient fear? Let me know in a comment! If nothing else, it’s certainly interesting to think about!

Enjoy your Wednesday, y’all!


  1. Devon says:

    That quote is funny, if a bit over the top. Really though, one of the things I love about carnivores is that they are so highly adapted that they force us to think more deeply about plants as life-forms, rather than as scenery or food. They provide real insights when thinking about evolution and ecology.

    Also they’re pretty and weird :p

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