While humans, and occasionally animals, are typically the stars of the silver screen, there have been a great number of plants who have lit up the silver screen in crucial roles. While a plant is yet to win an Oscar (although one came close, more on that later), we have delved into our movie archives to bring you our five favourite trees and plants in film history. Spoilers ahead!
The last plant – Wall:E (2008)
We all know how important plants are, and perhaps no individual plant is more important than the little shoot in a boot in Wall:E.
The world has become barren and uninhabitable dust bowl, devoid of green life. Humanity has moved away and a seemingly fruitless quest for a plant to restart life on Earth continues until search robot Eva discovers what is probably the last plant in the world.
The precious plant then needs looking after so humanity can return to earth. A comforting, if not-so-subtle reminder of the importance of looking after nature and biodiversity on our planet.
Audrey II – Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Everyone gets a kick out of carnivorous plants, but we prefer them not to eat humans like Audrey II – perhaps the most famous plant in movie history.
Bought by nerdy Seymour Krelborn during a solar eclipse, Audrey II feeds on human blood, eventually starting to talk and demanding to be fed. Half horror film, half ridiculous comedy, this is the only film where Steve Martin and Bill Murray appear on screen together.
Audrey II (or more accurately, the visual effects team behind him) was nominated for an Oscar in 1987 and even appeared on the Academy Awards stage with the man who voiced him, Levi Stubbs.
Aglaonema – Leon: The Professional (1994)
While hitmen are not typically known to be nice people, Leon, the titular character, at least does an exceptional job of caring for his favourite plant – an Aglaonema, or Chinese Evergreen plant.
Indeed in the film, he refers to the plant as his best friend because it is always happy and doesn’t ask questions. He even saves it from a dangerous situation.
All us plant-lovers have a favourite plant baby, but we love sharing them with other people too, as Leon finds when he takes in 12 year old Mathilda.
Whomping Willow – Harry Potter series (2001-2011)
While no tree (that we know of) is sentient and capable of moving its branches like limbs to attack when threatened, the Whomping Willow is in fact based on a real tree.
A Queen Beech tree in the British county of Hertfordshire, with a little help from CGI, played the valuable and violent tree in the famous Wizarding series, but is now sadly fallen.
In the films, the tree helped to disguise a secret passage from Hogwarts to the Shrieking Shack in the village of Hogsmeade.
Grandmother Willow – Pocahontas
Another willow tree, this one is a talking spiritual tree that guides Pocahontas and her animal friends throughout their adventure, also acting as an oracle or shaman.
Voiced by Linda Hunt, Grandmother Willow was a mixture of traditional and digital animation. Making her one of the first CGI enhanced trees in cinema. Though we prefer trees as they are, without digital augmentation.
It’s still believed unanswered as to whether the name ‘grandmother’ means Pocahontas was actually descended from the tree, or that the tree contains the spirit of her grandmother. This isn’t the usual kind of question that arborists have to answer.
Treebeard in The Lord of The Rings, the camphor tree in My Neighbour Totoro, that lemon tree in Waterworld, the tree of life in The Tree of Life, the tree growing out of the ship at the end of Passengers.
While your local Plant Life Balance-accredited nursery might not have a Whomping Willow for you to buy, there are lots of plants to choose from – find your nearest local.