Grows on Trees

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If only it was this easy...

A fantasy trope, mostly confined to children's fantasy, where trees don't just grow fruit, they grow anything you could want. Sometimes it's food, and sometimes it's something like shoes, or hammers, or whatever the author wants.

The idea of a money tree is also a great fantasy, even though you'd need a pretty big Artistic License in Economics to believe that buying things with such money is any more sustainable or ethical than counterfeiting.

Compare Level Ate, for more useful landscaping, and Solid Gold Poop for another money-for-nothing scenario.

Examples of Grows on Trees include:

Card Games


Comics

  • In De cape et de crocs, there is an island where cheese and eggs grow on trees. It's later revealed they come from the moon, where almost everything, including precious gems and gold, grows on trees. The story averts You Fail Economics Forever: gold grows everywhere so Selenites think of it as annoying weed. The only currency on the moon is poetry.
  • A Mandrake the Magician story takes place in a country of botanists who developed plants for any - and I mean any - possible purpose. Just a few examples: fluorescent lamppost-like trees, self-cooking potatoes, steak bushes, nylon stocking plants, giant mushroom houses which grow complete with central heating and electrical wiring. The most far-fetched is probably the transport - miles-long trailing vines that grow at 40 MPH with passengers clinging to the leaves.


Film

  • In Big Top Pee Wee, Pee-Wee Herman is a farmer who keeps a hot dog tree under wraps.


Jokes

  • The joke about an irate mother whose child keeps taking apples from the kitchen: "Apples don't grow on trees, you know!"


Literature

  • Xanth uses it a lot.
  • It's in The Magician's Nephew, where the kids plant a piece of candy and it grows into a candy tree (overnight!).
    • Because the world is still young and overflowing with magic. They also manage to produce gold and silver trees, as well as the much more famous iron bar that grows into a gaslamp-post.
  • Land of Oz series:
    • In Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and co. come upon lunch-box trees in the country of Ev, which contain a ham sandwich, a piece of sponge-cake, a pickle, a slice of new cheese, and an apple. The trees also grow napkins.
    • In Tik-Tok of Oz, the inhabitants of Oogaboo are named after the crops they grow on their orchard trees—Jo Apple, Jo Candy, Jo Stockings, Jo Files, etc. Jo Files also has a storybook tree, where the stories are "dull and confusing" if they're picked too soon, but if you wait until they're ripe, they're excellent. In the same book, a prisoner in the Nome King's domain survives by eating off what he calls "Hotel Trees", which grow coconut-looking things you can unscrew to reveal they contain a three-course dinner, from soup to nuts.
  • Snow Crash has a dog whose virtual reality includes steaks growing on trees.
  • Discworld's The Last Continent takes this trope to extremes. A god of evolution causes trees and bushes to sprout with anything the wizards who land on the island desire, up to and including cigarettes (and many other bizarre examples, but I don't have the book on hand at the moment).
    • Let's just say that, when they decide to leave the island, a fully organic ship turns up, complete with a figurehead (with a disturbing resemblance to the only female on the party).
  • In The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) by Carlo Collodi, the Fox and the Cat tell Pinocchio that if he plants some gold coins in the ground, they will grow into a tree with a thousand gold coins growing on it. It turns out to be a fraud.
  • The illustrations to the classic children's book Ferdinand the Bull feature a cork tree that has bottle corks growing on its branches like acorns. In Real Life, cork does grow on trees, but as bark.
  • Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex has an illustration depicting the Colombian condom bush (Citcalyhporp rebbur).
  • In Norman Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth, words grow on trees. When Milo questions this, they point out that money doesn't grow on trees, but something must—why not words? (Numbers, BTW, are mined.)
  • In the French story La sorciere du placard à balais (The witch from the broom closet), the main character ends up with a macaroni tree in his garden.
  • In Douglas Adams' Life the Universe And Everything, it is explained that since the universe is so very large, everything one could possibly manufacture is growing somewhere as a natural product. The two things he mentions specifically are mattresses (apparently a swamp-dwelling animal species), and screwdriver trees.
  • The tale of Aladdin from Arabian Nights features a grove in the cave where the lamp is found, where grow trees producing, for instance, emeralds the shape (and size) of Pears. Of course, you'll die if you try to take them...
  • Played for Laughs in The Pendragon Adventure:

Boon: Food doesn't grow on trees, you know!

  • One of Stanislaw Lem's Ijon Tichy stories from The Star Diaries has such plants. However, they've been left uncultivated for several generations and the cross-pollination has created some bizarre results (like carnivorous, ambulatory furniture).
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Cetaganda there's a (highly genetically engineered) tree that has kittens as its "fruit". They don't survive being "plucked", however.


Live Action TV

  • The famous April Fools' Day programme the BBC ran about the Swiss spaghetti harvest.


Theatre

  • Mentioned in the Chancellor's nightmare song in Iolanthe:

You get a good spadesman to plant a small tradesman (first take off his boots with a boot-tree),
And his legs will take root, and his fingers will shoot, and they'll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree--
From the greengrocer tree you get grapes and green pea, cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries,
While the pastrycook plant cherry brandy will grant, apple puffs, and three-corners, and Banburys--


Music

  • The children's song "On Top of Spaghetti" features a meatball that rolls off a plate, out the door of the restaurant, and under a bush. The next year it grows into a meatball tree. The song doesn't really make much sense.
  • "The Big Rock Candy Mountain", by Harry McClintock and various other related versions of the hobo-ballad, going back to the Medieval concept of the "Cockaigne", an Earthly, idyllic paradise where all needs are met without need for toil. The McClintock version and several others refer not only to Cigarette Trees, but to lakes of stew and whiskey, and springs of soda pop, lemonade, or alcohol.
  • There is a song sung in Welsh primary schools about various birds sitting in trees. The first verse is pretty normal and tells of a yellow bird in a banana tree. Then the second mentions a red bird in a tomato tree. The third is about a green bird in a cucumber tree, and just when you thought it couldn't get any stranger, the fourth verse is about a blue bird in a bubblegum tree.
  • The second verse of an Australian children's song called "Kookaburra:"

"Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Eating all the gum drops he can see
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!
Leave some there for me"


Video Games

  • There is a money tree that can be grown in The Sims games.
    • The Sims 3 actually lets you grow things in trees, like fish and steak and cheese.
  • The Wakwak Tree in the Castlevania series grows Fleamen.
  • In Animal Crossing random items appear in trees but more to this trope you can grow a money tree.
  • One of the playable races in Guild Wars 2. They're Plant People.
  • FarmVille takes this to some pretty wild extremes. Not only is there a money tree, there are also bubble gum trees, cookie trees, jewel trees, candy heart trees, paper lantern trees, rainbow trees (that is, not simply a multicolored tree, but a tree that grows tiny rainbows as fruit) and countless others... basically, if you can think of it, there's probably a tree version of it.
  • In Money Tree, leaves fall down out of the sky and you attach them to the formerly-bare tree. While most grow only mundane fruit, now and again you'll get one that grows paper money.
  • The Legend of Zelda Oracle Games feature Gasha trees, which sprout from Gasha seeds you plant and their nuts bear various useful items.
  • Elves in Dwarf Fortress have their wooden items (which is pretty much everything that isn't cloth) grow on trees. Those are actually pretty good, as wooden things go. Elves also are likely to visit you and start whining and threatening about your more common ways to use wood.


Web Original

  • Orion's Arm: Deliplants are genetically-engineered plants that grow animal products, which is more efficient and ethical than using animals.
  • This video (an animation of Cyanide & Happiness) features a bacon tree. (You have to climb high enough to reach the crispy ones!)


Webcomics


Western Animation

  • In an episode of Darkwing Duck, there was a money tree. However, this money tree produces only counterfeit bills and the real purpose is that the money seeds would turn into trees and take the safes with the real money inside away to the supervillian.
  • The Kiwi in Galaxy Rangers specialize in Fantastic Fruits and Vegetables, so much so that this Trope is a galactic punch line when talking about the species. In the pilot episode, a human and Andorian botanist joke about growing shoes.


Other

  • Spaghetti
  • There is a plant called the silver dollar plant, because the seed pods can be dried, and then the outer membrane can be rubbed off of these to reveal a shiny silver surface that kind of resembles a coin. (Sadly, that's where the resemblance to a money tree ends.) You'll often see these as accents in dried floral arrangements.