The BBC announced last week that it plans to remake The Day of the Triffids, the classic tale of flesh eating plants that prey on a blinded humanity. Plants may seem sweet and innocent, rooted to the ground or sitting in pots on your windowsill. But our list of the deadly plants found throughout science fiction prove that flora can be more dangerous than you’d ever imagined.
Triffids (The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham): Although the bioengineered Triffids appear sentient and have a deadly sting, humanity farms them for their oil. But when most of humanity is blinded by a meteor shower, Triffids take advantage of mankind’s sudden weakness and begin to break free and turn on their former captors. It was made into the classic 1962 film and a 1981 BBC television serial.
The Vines (The Ruins): Vines may seem like a fairly mundane feature of the ruins of a Mayan temple. But these vines are deadly, eating away at human flesh and leaving their spores to germinate inside the human body. And they’re tricky creatures, too, causing cell phones to ring and mimicking human voices.
Killer Tomatoes (Attack of the Killer Tomatoes): After years of smothering our burgers in ketchup, the tomatoes take their revenge. Giant tomatoes invade the cities of the world, chowing down on the tomato-eating populace.
The Thing (The Thing From Another World): When the US Air Force discovers the body of a plant-based alien frozen in ice, they accidentally thaw it, leaving it to wreak havoc across Alaska. The Thing needs human blood to reproduce, but fortunately, like so many killer plants, is vulnerable to electricity.
The Seeds (Doctor Who “Seeds of Doom”): Another alien lands in an icy part of the world, this time Antarctica. Scientists discover a pair of giant seed pods and bring them back to their base for study. But as they thaw, instead of eating the scientists, they sting one of them, turning him into a murderous plant creature.
The Sarlaac (Star Wars): The Sarlaac has puzzled xenobiologists with its plant and animal qualities, but it is best known for its digestive system. A humanoid could spend a thousand years in the sarlaac’s digestive tract before being fully digested, and, while it doesn’t eat frequently, it has been known to use its tentacles to grab onto its prey.
Biollante (Godzilla vs Biollante): Biolante starts life as a rose-like monster, with constricting vines and stinging teeth along her bud. But Godzilla’s atomic beam mutates her further, giving her a giant head with an enormous jaw and set of teeth, spines running down her back, and four roots for legs. In either form, she is bent on defeating Godzilla.
Lyekka (Lexx): Lyekka is a carnivorous plant who, upon encountering the Lexx, scans Stanley Tweedle’s mind and takes the form of his school crush. She is fond of Stanley, but has been known to dine on other space travelers.
The Weeds (“The Weeds” by Stephen King): When Jordy Verrill discovers a meteorite, he sees dollar signs, thinking the alien rock will pay of his bank account. But the plant-like organism living on the meteorite quickly takes over his body, covering it in tenacious extraterrestrial grass. Unable to do anything about the plant creatures transforming his body, Verrill turns to suicide, but the weeds are undeterred, running across his property and out into the world. The story was adapted for the King anthology film Creepshow.
Pod People (Invasion of the Body Snatchers): The people of Santa Mira, California notice something strange about their loved ones, who look the same but no longer display any emotions. Soon, some of the townspeople discover the truth: huge pod plants are growing exact duplicates of existing humans, duplicates that go on to kill and replace their human counterparts.
Tybo (Lost in Space “The Great Vegetable Rebellion”): When Dr. Smith arrives on a planet of sentient plants, he makes the mistake of picking a flower and incurring the wrath of Tybo the giant carrot. Though hostile, Tybo isn’t exactly murderous. He just wants to turn the Robinsons into trees and Dr. Smith into a stalk of celery.
The Trees (Evil Dead): The first Evil Dead film has one of the more disturbing sequences of attack by vegetation when Cheryl is attacked and brutally raped by a demon-possessed tree. In Evil Dead II, Bobby Jo is also attacked by trees, although in a less horrific fashion.
The Doll’s Eye (Minority Report): When John Anderton goes to visit researcher Iris Hineman, he ends up tangoing with one of her more active vines, which delivers a poison into his bloodstream. Fortunately, Dr. Hineman keeps the antidote hand.
Audrey II (Little Shop of Horrors): Downtrodden Seymour Krelborn has a change in fortune when he brings the unusual plant Audrey II (named for his beloved coworker Audrey) to the flower shop where he works. He is somewhat less delighted when he realizes the plant needs human blood to survive, though he lets himself get talked into bringing her fresh human meat. Little does he know that Audrey II is, in fact, an alien bent on world domination.
Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan (Farscape): Zhaan is a Delvian, a species of sentient, meat-eating plants. If deprived of meat for too long, Delvians emit a toxic pollen which paralyzes potential victims with sneezing, making them easy prey. Zhaan herself turned to religion while serving a sentence for murder and, while generally a patient and tolerant person, does possess a darker side.
Swamp Thing (Swamp Thing): Following an explosion in his lab, chemist Alec Holland dies in a swamp, where his personality and memories are transferred to the swamp vegetation, becoming sentient. The elemental Swamp Thing becomes a fierce defender of humanity and the environment. Some of Swamp Thing’s foes are also plant-based, such as the Floronic Man, who was once human, but has gradually transformed himself into a plant.
All the Plants on Earth (The Happening): One day, the whole of the plant kingdom apparently decides that it’s had it with humanity and decides to do something about it. The plants release a neurotoxin that causes the affected to commit suicide, stopping when an adequate proportion of humanity is killed.