Fertile Feet

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Fertile feet 8463.jpg

There are a lot of ways to tell the White Hats from the Black Hats, but one pretty good rule of (green) thumb is that anyone who can bring flowers into existence just by stepping on soil is probably not evil. This person is not just a Friend to All Living Things but a potent force for good who is very likely The Messiah, a Physical God, or a credible runner up. At the very least they have a Green Thumb, and in extreme cases are so powerful and so Good that their aura bleeds out into the world as a source of healing and growth.

The symbolism is pretty direct: person is so good and saintly that their presence actively manifests as natural beauty.

This trope can be subverted by switching flowers to thorns. The inverse is Walking Wasteland, where a character's presence causes withering and decay; see also Enemy to All Living Things. The character might not necessarily be bad, but that's a hard case to sell. Villains and neutral characters doing this are usually employing power over plants, possibly from being a Nature Spirit or Plant Person.

The obvious Foil to Walking Wasteland or Evil Is Deathly Cold. Indeed, sometimes it can be impossible to tell whether the effect is the character's beneficence, or because their defeat of the Big Bad removes his influence, which has No Ontological Inertia. (Babies Ever After may act as a mundane equivalent, or coincide with this trope.) See also Hope Sprouts Eternal and World-Healing Wave. Contrast Cross-Melting Aura.

Not related to the giant Aurgelmir in Norse Mythology, whose feet mated with one another and gave him the son Thrudgelmir, the first of the frost giants.

Examples of Fertile Feet include:

Anime and Manga

  • Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke had this trope with the Forest Spirit, who gave and took life. Where-ever he stepped, plant life shot out of the ground, only to regress and presumably die when his foot left the ground.
  • In Pokémon 3: Spell of the Unown, the illusory Entei makes crystals grow where he steps down on the ground. The plot of the movie involves the Pokémon Unown causing similar crystals to grow, and since they created Entei, it serves to connect the two together. It becomes obvious that the Unown can only affect reality within an area defined by the crystal growth. Hence Entei isn't making crystals grow wherever he steps, the Unown are making crystals grow so Entei can step on them.
  • Given a dark twist King of Thorn: the thorny vines grow after Kasumi wherever she goes, despite her not wanting them to.
  • Uro-sama from Kekkaishi grows moss wherever he walks. Also, donut trees wherever he sits.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Jonathan Joestar makes a tree blossom by leaning against it, simultaneously reminding us that his power level is off the scale and that he is plainly and unambiguously The Hero.
  • Naruto displays this to a degree once he takes control of the Kyuubi's chakra. Even the artificial wood of Yamato's mokuton sprouts vibrant leaves in his presence. Subsequently weaponized when it's discovered that the life-giving power of the chakra can cause Zetsu clones to revert into trees.
  • Belldandy does this in the "Fighting Wings" duology of the Ah! My Goddess anime. Lind grows a flower in the palm of her hand, showing that even Badass halberd-wielding Valkyries have a softer side.

Card Games

  • One of the features of the World of Warcraft card game—Item cards. They can provide you rare items in-game. Two of them has said effect: Trinket "Path of Illidan" which leaves green fire footprints as you walk and "Path of Zenarius (Cenarius?)" that make flowers (and grass) appear as you walk.

Comic Books

  • Shalla Bal in one Silver Surfer story. She is able to return life to their homeworld after the Surfer infuses her with some of his cosmic power.
  • In Hellboy: "The Nature of the Beast", there's a legend that the monk who first killed the St. Leonard Worm was injured fighting the dragon, and lilies grew from the places in the valley where his blood fell. Then when Hellboy fights the Worm, lilies grow from where his blood falls. This is significant because Hellboy is a half demon and the prophesied Antichrist equivalent of the setting, however he is so staunchly good he is (up to now) an Anti-Anti-Christ.
  • In Meridian, Sephie falls from a flying ship at high altitude and lands in a toxic wasteland, making a human-shaped crater around which plants start to grow.
  • In DC's miniseries Trinity, the transformed Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman caused life to return to Europe.
  • Poison Ivy subverts this, over and over.
  • In an early issue of The Books of Magic, the protagonist has just defeated the Manticore, the secret plague that's been turning the Fairy world into a desert, but has been badly wounded in the process. His blood is chock-full of magic, though, so even as he's bleeding out stumbling around, his blood droplets restore plant life to the world.

Films -- Animation

  • Shishigami, in Princess Mononoke. It should be noted that the Shishigami doesn't give just life but both life and death—and the plants that spring up from its footsteps immediately die and rot away. It seems to make plants go through their life cycle faster. But when the Shishigami is decapitated, his headless and still-moving body turns into a Walking Wasteland.
  • The Spring Sprite in the "Firebird Suite" segment of Fantasia 2000, most likely inspired by Princess Mononoke.
  • Crysta by the end of Fern Gully.
  • In Yellow Submarine, The Beatles leave a trail of psychedelic foliage behind them during the "Nowhere Man" number. Unlike most examples, they undo the effect by walking backward along the path they'd earlier trod.
  • It happens in Kirikou and The Sorceress when Kirikou pulls out Karaba's magical thorn from her back, automatically, making her good and reverting her Walking Wasteland so the plants and flowers grow back prettier than before. Truly eyeful!
  • The Animated Adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has Aslan do this after resurrecting from the Stone Table.
  • In the Barbie adaption of The Nutcracker, Clara walks through a snowy landscape and wherever her feet step, the snow and ice melts and little purple flowers bloom in the melted footprints. She doesn't notice.

Films -- Live-Action

  • The Nature Elemental from Hellboy II: The Golden Army subverts this trope, since it's a Designated Villain (but also last of its kind).
  • In Pan's Labyrinth, after Ofelia dies after refusing to harm her half-brother, the dead tree whose parasitic frog she removed has a single, beautiful flower bloom on it where she briefly touched it. This is appropriate considering her actions allowed her reentry into the fairy kingdom, "redeeming" her soul from base humanity and making her something close to a saint. Director commentary runs to the effect of "Even if all the effect she had on the world was the blooming of a single flower on a dead tree, then her life had meaning."
  • Excalibur, after Arthur's wound is healed by the Holy Grail.
  • Reconstructed in Avatar, where pressure causes Pandora's bioluminescent plant life to glow underfoot, but not change in any other way. It helps that it's there more for Scenery Porn than anything else.
  • Anneke in the Russo-Finnish production The Day the Earth Froze briefly caused flowers to bloom in her wake when Lemmenkainen and Ilmarinen rescued her from the witch Louhi. Louhi and her imps then went on a frenzy of stomping the flowers, because (being evil and all) she hated anything beautiful.
    • When this movie was given the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, Joel looked at the witch during this scene and pondered, "Geez, I wonder what her Myers-Briggs test was like."


  • Discworld
    • Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith is the Trope Namer; it was called this (and the Latinized "Ped Fecundis") when Tiffany Aching developed it. Of course, this being Discworld, it is played for laughs.
    • In Pyramids, when Pteppic's father dies, making him a divine emperor, his friends notice grass growing from the city pavement wherever he steps, a wooden table starts budding, and all the grain in a bakery attempts to burst into life.
  • Some examples from JRR Tolkien:
    • Lúthien Tinúviel in The Silmarillion does this. And how.
    • In The Lord of the Rings, King Theoden's horse does this to its grave. The horse was buried where he was killed, and grass grew lushly over the grave. (In contrast to the Nazgul Giant Flyer's death-spot, which remained forever barren.) Also happens with other burial sites, with those of evil beings staying barren.
      • That also turns up in, of all places, Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days, in the story of Leon and Roman Krebsbach.
    • Also in The Silmarillion, the Elven High King Fingolfin.

...and Fingolfin unfurled his blue and silver banners, and blew his horns, and flowers sprang beneath his marching feet, and the ages of the stars were ended.


Said Father Winter: "If Beira scolds you, give her these flowers, and if she asks where you found them, tell her that they came from the green rustling fir-woods. Tell her also that the cress is springing up on the banks of streams, and that the new grass has begun to shoot up in the fields."


"It's all very well to be fond of England; but a man who wants to help England mustn't let the grass grow under his feet."
"And that's just what I want to do," answered Hood. "That's exactly what even your poor tired people in big towns really want to do. When a wretched clerk walks down Threadneedle Street, wouldn't he really be delighted if he could look down and see the grass growing under his feet; a magic green carpet in the middle of the pavement? It would be like a fairy-tale."

  • Played for laughs in the story All You've Ever Wanted by Joan Aiken.
  • The Dresden Files
    • In Jim Butcher's Summer Knight, the Summer Lady, the youngest of the three queens of the Summer Court of fairies has this quality. Subverted when it turns out that she's become a Well-Intentioned Extremist and is attempting to destroy the balance between the two fairy courts.
    • In Proven Guilty, the Summer Lady turns wooden flowers into real ones by passing by. Whereupon the Winter Lady passes by and blights them again.
  • Flowers are said to have sprung up in the wake of Blessed Elua in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy books.
  • Hannah, protagonist of Meredith Ann Pierce's Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood, grows plants appropriate to the season—which usually seem to end up being useful—in her hair. She also, as it turns out, brings the seasons with her when she travels, including flowers in spring, grains in summer and falling leaves in autumn. Surprisingly enough, she turns out to be the MacGuffin Girl whom both the Big Good and the primary antagonist were after.
  • When Aslan creates Narnia in C. S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, grass spreads out from his feet across the bare earth like a wave.
  • Easter/Eostre of the Dawn does this in American Gods, on her way to bring Shadow back from the land of the dead.
  • In Ian McDonald's Desolation Road, there's a green evolved human from the future. Grass grows in the desert in his footsteps.
  • Flowers supposedly sprang up behind the titular saint when he visited a novice in A Canticle for Leibowitz, but that was just rumor distorting an encounter with the Wandering Jew.
  • The Wheel of Time
    • At the end of Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World, we meet the Green Man. The Green Man keeps a chunk of earth free from the blight with his power to make things grow. While he is dying, he tackles one of the Forsaken and makes a giant tree grow out of the forsaken's chest in a matter of minutes. It is also mentioned in backstory that the Green Man's people, the Nym, caused plants to grow where they walked.
    • This ability is also available to anyone who can channel (whether good or evil) and knows the necessary Geometric Magic.
    • At the beginning of Towers of Midnight, Rand descends from Dragonmount after resolving his internal conflict and makes an entire orchard of apples, which had been shriveled by the Dark One's touch, bloom instantly. Later, he makes bitter tea turn fresh just by entering the same room. It gets to the point in the book where virtually everyone can tell when Rand is near, simply because the sun starts shining, and everything starts blooming like there's no tomorrow (though this is purposely excluded in a capital city ruled by one of his lovers).
    • All of this is because of the prophecy stating that the Land is one with the Dragon. The spoilage of previous books is because of him moving towards the darkness.
  • The unicorns do this in Pamela Dean's Secret Country books, although they are creatures of capricious morality. One of the children call the trail of blossoms "unicorn footprints" and her sarcastic brother immediately redubs them "fewmets".
  • In Zilpha Keatley Snyder's novel The Changeling, Martha and Ivy invent a fantasy kingdom of Tree People with pale green skin and dark green hair in which flowers grow naturally. (The Tree People later developed into Snyder's Green-Sky Trilogy and, eventually, the "Below the Root" video game.)
  • Clive Barker's Weaveworld has two examples of this. The first plays the trope straight, with a temple so chock-full of magic that any disturbances (such as walking through it) sprouts a lush undergrowth. The second is an inversion, with a Garden of Eden-like setting covered in flora, which withers away and turns to sand when someone walks through it.
  • Briar Moss uses this in Tamora Pierce's Street Magic invokes this when he has a very rational and very controlled Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Briar has Green Thumb in asskicking, so when he has enough, he uncorks his power and seeds and plant-based material come to live and sprout in his wake. In broad daylight. Most mages make an effort to fit into normal society, so seeing one obviously not making the effort was a great way to encourage people to get out of his way.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, the Water of Life has this effect on its environs. Even in Hell.

Music Videos

Myth and Legend

  • There is at least one legend that garlic derives its anti-Vampire properties from that fact that it first sprouted in Satan's footsteps. This is not in The Bible.
    • Traditionally, vampires were corpses possessed by demons; it reminds them if their host is destroyed, they will return to Hell.
  • Also, in Arthurian/Grail legends, the sickness of the king poisons the land, and when the king is healed the flowers grow again. The movie Excalibur is a particularly vivid portrayal of this legend.
  • There is a Yiddish folktale about two girls, a kind one and a mean one. The kind one received a blessing that caused roses to spring up where she walked, and the mean girl got a curse that made nettles spring up in her footsteps.

New Media


  • The Christian hymn "Morning Has Broken" (which has a popular version recorded by Cat Stevens) says plants sprang into existence when God walked in the Garden of Eden.
    • The Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas" has a variation where the ground gets so warm that grass grows in the middle of winter.
    • It's also a pretty common motif in psalms. There is one Swedish example of God's footsteps not only bringing flowers but also overflowing with fat. Food wasn't as plentiful back then.
  • Said of Olwen, of the Mabinogion:

"Four white trefoils sprung up wherever she trod."

  • Common attribute of Demeter/Ceres, the Grain Mother, and to her daughter, Persephone, bringer of springtime (when Persephone goes into the Underworld, it's another story...).
    • Also by Medusa and Cerberus, neither of whom were noted for their kindness. When Perseus was bringing Medusa's head back to Greece, her blood continually soaked through the bag he was carrying it in and caused oases to form wherever they landed. And when Heracles brought Cerberus out of Tartarus as part of his last Labor, Cerberus began howling in rage and his drool caused the plant commonly known as Wolfsbane to blossom wherever it hit the soil.
  • Also, Suvetar, the Finnish goddess of spring.
  • The newborn Buddha is sometimes said to have left lotuses in his footsteps when he walked after birth.

Tabletop Games

  • Changeling: The Lost
    • The Flowering kith of Fairest cause flowers to spring wherever they step... though it takes months for them to do so in the real world, while in Arcadia and The Hedge it's instantaneous.
    • Same thing with the Spring Court and their Mantle. At low levels, those close to them feel a gentle, fragrant breeze, but at high levels, plants tend to grow out of the sidewalk if they stick around long enough.
  • Aekold Hellbrass from Warhammer Fantasy Battle caused plants to grow wherever he went. Subverted in that he was a champion of chaos, serving Tzeentch, the god of mutation, and nothing like a Friend to All Living Things. His presence was actually screwing up the laws of nature, the excessive life energy radiating from his body as the result of an unusual mutation.
    • There is also Alarielle the Radiant who is a good aligned example.
      • Alarielle when on foot leaves a temporary trail of plants in Total War: Warhammer II, even when she is launched into the air [1]
  • The Quintessential Temptress has this as an option for the Avatar of Love prestige class, once they get the Lover's Gift class feature. It's listed as the Spring Flowers Gift, and is the only one of the Lover's Gifts that doesn't actually do anything inherently useful.
  • Benediction of Archgenesis, a Solar Circle Sorcery spell from Exalted, is basically this. However, unlike most examples, you actually have to cut your feet and trail the blood around the area you want blessed with life.
    • There's also the Moon And Earth Blessing from the Ink Monkeys, a Lunar Charm that allow them to do the same, on a smaller scale. On the other hand, they can do it as a dramatic action, it doesn't require anywhere near as much essence much less a massive blood sacrifice, and they can do it any day of the year rather than just on the first day of the first month.
    • In Return of the Scarlet Empress, Gaia's return to Creation includes this trope.

Video Games

  • Age of Wonders
    • The most powerful elven unit, the Nature Elemental, has a "Path of Life" special ability that transforms the grounds it walks upon into the forest/grass terrain. It also has the Frost Queen (Path of Frost) and the Undead Reaper (Path of Decay).
    • While no unit in the sequel gain directly the ability, the druids can have it with a gold medal, and it's still available as an item property. Wizards with at least one Light Sphere can have a similar magic effect active in their domain that slowly restores terrain.
    • Death wizards invert this: they have abilities that turn their domains into blasted wastelands. Of course, all of the elemental wizards can turn their domains into an embodiment of their element: for example, air wizards can turn verdant grasslands into frost bitten tundras, and freeze over rivers and even the ocean.
  • In Black and White, made by the same people who later made Fable, a very Good Creature has the same effect. Conversely, a very Evil Creature leaves smoldering footprints.
  • When you're maxed out good in Fable, a halo appears over your head and flowers and butterflies also randomly show up when you stand still. As soon as you move, the effect disappears.
  • Ōkami
    • Amaterasu. The faster she runs, the more lush the foliage, although it disappears just as quickly as it sprouts up. In water, Amaterasu leaves a trail of lily pads behind her; in midair, a flurry of autumn leaves. This passive ability is amplified after gaining the Growth Brush technique. The flowers in her wake are already bloomed, and at full speed, the flowers turn gold.
    • The sequel, Ōkamiden, stars Chibiterasu, who has the same power.
    • Amaterasu even does this in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, while running up Super-Skrull's outstretched arm. With Viewtiful Joe riding her, yet!
  • Bayonetta, from the same development studio, has Bayonetta leaving behind a small trail of black plants whenever she is running in panther form.
  • World of Warcraft
    • Herbalists have something similar to this. They get a healing move that, when used, causes flowers and plants to spring up around them.
    • The Night Elf Ancients (living trees that are used as production buildings in Warcraft III) apparently have healing roots, as they cleanse the undead Blight around them when they are planted in it.
    • And the red dragons, who are guardians of the Aspect of Life, have fertile breath—flowers spring up from where they breathe flame, most notably and poignantly at Angrathar. Some seem to have this trope exactly, such as Surristrasz and his drakes at Amber Ledge, who are surrounded by a patch of grass and flowers upon otherwise barren rock.
    • Also of note is Illidan's inversion in Warcraft 3: When he moves, his footprints leave fire.
  • Using a Grass Assist in Pokémon Ranger causes grass and flowers to sprout from your Capture Line.
  • In The Sims 2, sims have this effect for the duration of the Love Potion.
  • In a similar vein to this trope, Atlantean civilizations worshiping Gaia in Age of Mythology (the "Titans" expansion) will have lush greenery grow outward from their buildings, which will prevent enemy civilizations from building too close by.
  • According to her official profile, Lily White of Touhou Project can make flowers bloom with her mere presence, being the embodiment of spring and all. However, the actual Youkai of flowers, Yuka Kazami, is less Friend to All Living Things and more Ax Crazy.
  • Gaihla from Battle Realms has these, and you can exploit the game's unique take with Idle Animation and put her near your rice fields to help them grow faster. It's especially helpful in snowy stages.
  • One of the secret stars in the Supermassive Galaxy in Super Mario Galaxy 2 has Mario doing this. You have to cover the entire planet with flowers to get a star.
  • In a sense, Elizabeth Greene of Prototype is this way - she even has the added bonus of being a beautiful young woman with unearthly powers and bare feet, nicknamed MOTHER. It just happens that she doesn't spread nice benevolent things like flowers or plants. Instead, wherever she goes, the infection follows her in a trail of mutagenic, fleshy, diseased tendrils and pustules - even on steel, concrete or glass.
    • Alex Mercer himself gets in on the act: his health regeneration powers are so potent that his stepping into the residue of the Supreme Hunter he just killed allows it to come back to life.
  • Another evil example in Thief. Viktoria leaves mosses at her touch until she shows her true form as a dryad, when creeping vines sprout from around her feet and grow in her wake.
  • In Oracle of Tao, Ambrosia, after becoming the Oracle, has a massive shadow beneath her feet (probably representing that her dark half is now part of her ), and grows massive amounts of some generic weed, most likely Common Plantain. Also, in flashbacks ( since this power was originally hers ), she as a kid grew tiny sprouts inside her shadow when she moved.
    • God also has this power.
  • In Plants vs. Zombies there is a code that makes daisies appear when a zombie dies.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • After he becomes the Avatar of Life Magic, Lwan Eddington of Tech Infantry tends to have plants and animals spontaneously spring up around him wherever he goes. He even manages to create an entire fertile region on an asteroid-blasted Earth.

Western Animation

  • Gaia in Captain Planet left trails of flowers in her footsteps whenever she appeared in the human world.
  • Aphrodite from the cartoon series of |Hercules leaves small flowers wherever she walks. Mind you, they quickly disappear again.
  • Van Kleiss in Generator Rex can do this, and he's the Big Bad! However, it only works in the area around his castle, which is infused with nanites that he controls. He may arguably have been invoking the trope at the time to get Rex to let his guard down.
  • The second season opening of Jimmy Two-Shoes depicts Jimmy as being able to turn anything he touches into a happy, beautiful thing. He never has this power in the show, though.
  • This happens every Friday the 13th for Misery in Ruby Gloom.

Real Life

  • Subverted, sort of, for anyone that walks on this.