Plants, trees, vines, and vegetation of all sorts
have played an important part of pop culture since pop culture first
existed. From The Garden of Eden to The Sherwood Forest, plants big
and small have influenced literature, TV shows, and toys from all
generations. This list started out as kind of a joke but the more I
thought about it, the more I totally dug the idea. Plus any chance I
have to write about Kooky Spooky Trees is worth it.
#20 WHISTLING SPOOKY KOOKY TREES
What a gorgeous crazy toy! These 1962 metal robot
trees would dance around with flailing arms and make kooky whistling
noises. Sometimes going for more than $500 or more, each, these are
certainly one of the most rare and sought after toys of all time.
Every time I see one on eBay, I wonder if maybe, just maybe it's
worth shelling out the dough for one. Someday...someday. As for now,
I'll have to settle for the Wacky Zacky Drooling Turnip made by
Ideal in 1983. (Photo from the excellent Ozziesrobots.com)
#19 GRANDMOTHER WILLOW
From Disney's gorgeous Pocahontas film, Grandmother
Willow is a wise tree who sings songs and knows all. She's
Pocahontas' grandmother, so at one point, someone in her family had
sex with a tree. My guess is it's Chief Splinterdick.
#18 CHANDELIER DRIVE THROUGH TREE
If you're ever in the incomparably beautiful Redwood
Forest in Northern California, make sure you check out the Drive
Through Tree! I once drove a pickup truck through it back in the
day, and it was all I could do to keep from scraping the sides as I
passed through. It's been a kitchy travel landmark since the '30s
and is still going strong.
to read about this and other Drive Through Trees!
Bradley Mason Hamlin
writes in his review of Matango on our site
"Matango is a classic Toho Studio
film from 1963. In the States it was billed as Attack of the
Mushroom People. With a title like that how can you lose? The plot
is simple and brillant. A crew consisting of a psychologist, his
girlfriend, a wealthy business man, a famous singer, a writer, a
sailor and his skipper go on a cruise, get lost in a storm, and
marooned on a strange uncharted island.
Sherwood Schwartz, you dog, is this where you got the idea? Let’s
keep in mind Matango appeared a full year before Gilligan’s Island
aired on television.
Anyway, this cast of castaways soon learns the only consistent food
source on the island is water and mushrooms. Radioactive mushrooms.
Well, kids, that’s where the fun begins. You’ve simply got to see it
for yourself. If you are a monster and/or science fiction fan
Matango is a must-see film—from the people who brought you no less
than Godzilla himself."
#16 THE KILLER TOMATOES
Long before ecoli tainted spinach killed folks, these
tomatoes were doing the job nicely in this film which actually
celebrates its 30th Anniversary in 2008! I was disappointed in the
film, however, because at the end they show a carrot popping out of
the ground suggesting their reign of terror was about to end, but
they never followed through.
#15 THE LOLLIPOP TREE
Kids these days probably aren't as familiar with this
classic Burl Ives song, but it was always one of my favorites. Much
respect is due to a kid who thought to plant an old lollipop stick
in the ground, with the hopes that it would grow into a lollipop
tree, and then have it come true! The YouTube video I found above
captures the rollicking spirit of this tune better than I ever
could. Though I'm surprised the kid in the song never took it a step
further. Why not plant a money tree? Or get the fingernail clippings
of the hot cheerleaders in your class and make a cheerleader tree?
The possibilities are endless. In the '70s, there was a commercial
for Juicy Fruit Gum that had a Juicy Fruit Tree that had tons of
people gathered round picking luscious packs of gum from this tree
that defied nature.
#14 THE HALLOWEEN TREE
Ray Bradbury wrote The Halloween Tree back in 1967
with plans for it to be an animated film collaboration with the
equally legendary Chuck Jones, but the two never actually got it to
happen until 1992. In the meantime, Bradbury's book has become a
great underrated classic with a look at the culture of Halloween and
death itself in world culture. And the image of a tree filled with
Jack-O-Lanterns is still pretty amazing.
#13 THE WHOMPING WILLOW
There's not many trees that act our our fantasies for
us, so to see this brutish willow smacking the characters of Harry
Potter around, it's a special thrill for all. Clearly there's no
lawyers in the wizarding community, because having a deadly tree
like this on the Hogwarts campus is an incredible insurance
liability. We can't even have liquid amber trees planted in
Sacramento area schools anymore because some lady once twisted her
ankle on one of those spiky balls that falls from them.
#12 THE APPLE TREES FROM THE WIZARD
My favorite scene from The Wizard of Oz is when the
apple trees get pissed at The Scarecrow and Dorothy and use their
own apples as weapons. Some folks look at this as a greedy act, but
I think they're just standing up for what's theirs. Oz author L.
Frank Baum, a known supporter of Indian extermination, intended this
scene to represent White America's divine right for Manifest
Destiny. I think it's about time reparations are due, and we should
permit Apple Tree Casinos all over the land to make ammends.
Though DAY OF THE
TRIFFIDS is a silly movie on many levels, there's some pretty
landmark events in this 1963 film. For one, it's the first movie
were walking plants roamed the Earth and plagued mankind. It also
showcased the magical effects of a radioactive comet to make plants
into killers, 5 years before NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD did the same
thing with zombies.
is based on a 1953 novel by the same name by respected science
fiction author John Wyndham. The movie turns up the camp and fun,
however and really plays up these plants as great vegetable versions
of zombies. Apparently they have a horrible sting, drain the life
force from folks, and make this insane "POCKETA POCKETA POCKETA"
sound when they walk around that's probably annoying the crap out of
you right now if the background music is playing.
It turns out that
everyone in the world who sees this horrible comet goes blind, which
makes them easy pickings for the marauding plants (and sales for the
Braille version of "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret?" go
through the roof). The hero, who luckily can see, has a final
showdown with them in a lighthouse, turns on a firehose, and finds
out that saltwater turns them to goo.
What the? That's not
a very strong monster after all. You could basically whip out your
dick and piss on these things and make them die a miserable death.
After the hero radios the rest of the world and clues them in on
this little fact, they're all killed in about an hour.
What's even funnier is
the absolute end of the film, when the hero and his gal fly away off
the island they were stranded on, to a happy ending. Only, they
leave a few hundred blind people behind to fend for themselves.
The BBC also made a TV
miniseries of this in 1981 that was a bit more faithful to the
#10 TREEBEARD THE ENT
Treebeard is a badass giant talking tree from The
Lord of the Rings trilogy. He's kind of like a Jedi that's a tree
and instead of The Force, he uses his mystical sap to spread joy
throughout the forest. He killed Sauron with his tree buddies at the
beginning of Part 2 (Revenge of the King), and helped bring Frodo
and Pippin to a giant volcano so they could melt the evil ring down
and stop the evil forces of The Shire from taking over the world.
It's been a longtime since I've read the series, but it remains one
of the greatest science fiction epics America has ever produced.
#9 THE BURNING BUSH and
THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL
The Burning Bush that fucked with the "not high"
Moses is perhaps the most famous plant from The Bible. The Burning
Bush told Moses to go free the Jews from Egypt's enslavement. He did
such a good job of it, there's no written record of the Jews ever
being enslaved in Egypt at all! Hats off to Moses, though. The only
thing a burning weed ever told me to do was by Gummi Bears, Doritos,
and a bag full of White Castle.
Tied for 9th place is the Tree of Knowledge of Good
and Evil, which had apples that tasted so good, God didn't want Adam
to eat it because he would find out that he was naked. God
originally wanted mankind to be ignorant and not find out about
clothes. Hell, I felt the same way about half the girls I went to
high school with. Apples originated in Asia, by the way, so Adam and
Eve were probably Chinese. Unless someone just made this stuff up.
#8 KEEBLER ELF TREE
Any tree that can double as a factory for delicious
cookies is OK by me. Thanks to Elfin Magic, the thing never caught
fire, cause you know that whole place is an OSHA nightmare.
#7 AUDREY II
Perhaps the most entertaining vegetable to star in a
musical since that ill-fated Andrew Lloyd Webber fiasco that mixed
the world of skateboarding and Terry Shiavo.
#6 POD PEOPLE FROM
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
Gotta love those body snatchers. Though some think
they're the most impressive vegetable substitutes for humans, your
girlfriend will no doubt disagree.
#5 THE BEANSTALK
Fuck this ethanol stuff, if something that big could
grow from a handful of magic beans, I think we have a new renewable
resource for bio fuel that'll make corn obsolete. The Disney version
of the tale, Mickey and The Beanstalk, remains my favorite. It's
also still one of the best Mickey Mouse cartoons ever made.
Alec Holland was a man that become a swamp monster,
but a revamp of the comic book series by the legendary Alan Moore
showed us that Swamp-Thing was just a plant who thought he was a
person. Later became a Plant elemental and lord of all the world's
vegetation, which qualifies him as a super delegate for the
#3 THE GIVING TREE
The 1967 classic from Shel Silverstein is still one
of the sweetest and most poignant books ever written. Shel was a
genius. It's certainly been interpreted many different ways. The
tree selflessly gives things to the boy throughout his life up until
the end where he's a stump for a tired old man to sit on. Some folks
think the boy is selfish and does nothing but take and gets no
punishment for his behavior. Others look at is a weird tale of
unconditional love. Still others look at it as the ultimate erotic
fantasy between a boy and an apple tree. Thankfully, those folks are
mostly in jail.
#2 CHARLIE BROWN'S CHRISTMAS TREE
There's perhaps no greater example in pop culture of
seeing the beauty of something pathetic than Charlie Brown's tree
from his legendary Christmas special. In a season where it's easy to
get caught up in commercialism, Charlie's tree reminds us to
celebrate what the true origins of this season is all about...Pagan
#1 TRUFFULA TREES
Who would have thought Dr. Seuss' 1971 masterpiece
The Lorax, would still be so good and relevant all these
years later? The Truffula Trees with their wonderful Truffula Fruit
are as much of a symbol of our vanishing paradise in the name of
progress as anything. We need more people to speak for the trees.
Those damn Barbaloots sure aren't going to do it.
So did I leave out your favorite? Email me below and
let me have it.