Horticultural horror


Roots of a Tetrameles nudiflora tree at the Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia

Following my recent post on an ugly plant, which was actually a very beautiful plant as suburbanlife remarked, above a photograph of some very frightening plants, the roots of which cover this entire temple in Cambodia and like the “ugly plant”, seem to be dripping like a fluid over the structure. Horticultural horror will be explored in greater depth in future at my wiki entry for metamorphosis.

I first came across horticultural horror in the stories of Stephen King but a quick search on “horticultural horror” at Google turns up many more examples. For example, The Garden of Adompha, a 1938 story by Clark Ashton Smith, tells of a king who maintains a gruesome garden sown with human limbs grafted onto plants.

“A bare, leafless creeper was flowered with the ears of a delinquent guardsman…. Some of the salver-like blossoms bore palpitating hearts, and certain smaller blossoms were centered with eyes…”

Previously at Jahsonic:

5 thoughts on “Horticultural horror

  1. suburbanlife

    There is something rather frightening in the idea of being overcome by plants, slowly entwined, choked off from what nourishes us or keeps us alive. Anyone who tends a garden knows there is a subtle war for space and nutrients underfoot in the plant world. We keep insisting that more delicate specimens thrive, whereas the prolific and vigorous native plant is always on the attack to choke out the weak, foreign interlopers.
    I find that an image such as you showed here of the tree devouring the more permanent material of stone structure, rather humbling. nature in all its manifestations is far more powerful and persistent than any structure made by men. G

  2. jahsonic

    Thanks for your comment,

    Your remarks reminded me of ancient Rome in prints by Piranesi.

    see here for Piranesi

    I have also always been fascinated by birch trees that grow in the crevices of walls, thereby ripping entire structures apart.

    Just imagine a city like New York or Tokyo or Paris deserted and to see what would happen in a short space of 10 years, would the plants have taken over? How long would it take to make a city like that completely invisible, just like happened to ancient monuments such as Borobudur or the Mayan temples. Fascinating.

    I did a quick image search for “overgrown temples”, nice, it also turned up this post on abandoned places

  3. losfeld

    Fascinating pics! Maybe there’s a movie showing a big city deserted and invaded by nature but i don’t see which one. that’d be a nice subject. Thanx for sharing.

  4. jahsonic

    I guess I Am Legend sort of fits the bill, I hear, as far as desertedness goes. But I’d like to see the plants overtaking everything.

    This actually happens in this Ameliesque this Grany commercial (a Lu sub-brand here in Belgium) and the vision is entirely powerful.

    I just want to see the dark version of this vision.

    Thanks for you inspiration to write about the Grany commercial, I’d been wanting to do that.


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