A Tuesday Ten: Dangerous Vegetation!

Perhaps Little Shop of Horrors started it with the magnificently deadly plant from outer space.  Or, at least the modern take on such things.    Carnivorous trees, deadly poisons, hungry vines –it isn’t just the animals to worry about out there!  Some of these stories might make you eye your houseplants with a bit of suspicion!



The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier (Amulet Books, Expected Publication May 2014)

One of my favorite new reads this year.  This creepy is pure horrific delight.  Be careful what you wish for, especially around the creepy tree in this particular story.  Our two young protagonists will soon discover that there’s sinister stuff afoot at the house they’ve been hired to work at.  But will they be able to escape the Night Gardener and the tree itself? (Minor spoiler:  This is one of two carnivorous tree books I’ve read so far for this year!)  And it is what ultimately inspired this list.


Dreamwood by Heather Mackey (Putnam Juvenile, Expected publication: June 2014)

An alternate history adventure quest!  Young Lucy has run away from boarding school and into the northern woodlands to find her father.  Her father, however, has disappeared on a quest for the mysterious dreamwood, a magical wood that is said to only grow on the Devil’s Thumb, a place where no one has returned from with their mind intact!  Lucy sets out on her own journey to find her father, risking setting foot in the dangerous land of Devil’s Thumb, where the very island itself is set against intruders . . . and the trees are hungry.  My second carnivorous tree book this year!



The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell (Katherine Tegan Books, Expected Publication May 2014)

Merrie Haskell’s newest work is inspired by the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty.  And like the original tale, there’s a castle with a wall of thorns around it.  Somehow, young Sand has found himself transported into the castle, where everything is torn asunder and nothing seems to live or die.  Getting out of the castle may be much harder, for the vines have wicked thorns with poison and will attack those that try to cut them . . .


Jinx’s Magic by Sage Blackwood (Katherine Tegen Books, January 2014)

This is the second book Sage Blackwood’s series.  The first book,  Jinx, and this one both feature a place called the Urwald.  This land is full of giant trees that seem to be aware–and while not particularly malevolent in nature, they can ensure that travelers through the Urwald get lost or injured.  There’s a sense that perhaps this world belongs more to the trees than the people living within it.



The Drought on Ziax II by John Morressy (Walker & Company, 1978)

My one science fiction contribution to the list, this is an obscure young reader story about Earth colonists on a distant planet where drought has set in.  While Ziax II has never been water-rich the way Earth is, neither has it been so dry as its become–the natives and humans alike are facing a crisis.  The culprit turns out to be a voracious water sucking plant (that will also happily suck the liquid out of people and animals).  The only thing that counters this plant are some larger animals that the colonists have been killing.  It’s a bit obvious on hammering home the point, but it fits this list, as our protagonist and his native friend nearly become the plant’s next meal.



Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (Arthur A. Levine, 1998)

Admittedly our vegetation here has more of a cameo than a direct presence, but the Whomping Willow remains an important element in the stories for most of the series.  This particularly violent tree will attack anything near it, and first appears in the second book of the Harry Potter series.


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd, illustrated by Jim Kay (Walker Books, 2011)

So this one is a bit debatable, but given that the monster in the book resides as a ancient Yew tree much of the time, I think it’s applicable.  The story here is a heartbreaking but riveting account of one young man’s struggle with his mother dying from cancer and the truths the monster demands of him when it comes visiting.  It’s not a book for a lighthearted read, but it is an amazing and powerful read.


Briar’s Book by Tamora Pierce (Scholastic, c1999)

Technically the entire Circle of Magic series touches on this, at least in any of the books that feature Briar and Rosethorn.  Both of these plant mages are capable of using their abilities with plants to harm as well as heal.  As Briar grows in his abilities, he becomes more and more capable of doing powerful and dangerous magic with plants.  The most recent book, Battle Magic, demonstrates some of the deadlier uses of plants as Rosethorn and Briar must fight for their lives.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (HarperCollins, c1900)

Again, this is more of a cameo, but who can ever forget the Wicked Witch of the West’s ploy of creating a field of enchanted poppies that cause Dorothy and the Lion to fall into a powerful enchanted sleep?  Poisoned poppies that look attractive but wind up being quite dangerous.  I kept thinking there must be more deadly flower stories out there, but wound up coming up with only this one.


The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham (Putman Juvenile, 2010)

Thanks to Charlotte from Charlotte’s Library for help on this one.  I’m going to have to find it and read it!  Now this is a nicely creepy cover.  Radioactivity has turned a tree into a boy eating monster.  Every so often it looks for a new boy to steal, and eat at its leisure.  Our protagonist has got to outwit the tree and unravel the mystery surrounding it.

So there’s my ten!  Anyone have other titles on this theme?  Please add them in the comments below!




About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on March 27, 2014, in General Posts, Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thank you for another great list!
    L.M. Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe has an evil enchanted yew tree in it. And the graphic novel Lost Boy by Greg Ruth (a Cybils finals this year) also has dangerous enchanted forest – I think some of the vegetation was dangerous, and not just the normal, mobile inhabitants. And if you’re willing to go up to teen, Reckless by Cornelia Funke is full of dangerous plants and forests.

  1. Pingback: Reviews: Dreamwood by Heather Mackey | Views From the Tesseract

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