Plants, collectively referred to as flora by the scientists, were an extremely vast group of organisms found on countless worlds across the galaxy, and the major producers in an ecosystem. In some worlds, such as Felucia, plants were the dominant life form. Trees, grasses, herbs, bushes, ferns and mosses were the most prominent forms of plants. Sentient plants were not very common in the galaxy, with species like the Neti, the Daltarri, the Ergesh, the Orgon, the Thorn monster, the Pliith and the Revwien being rare examples of plants to have developed sentience. Throughout the galaxy, some plants were used for sustenance, others as tools, medicine, or even weapons. Sentient beings also grew vegetal organisms for the sole purpose of enjoying their natural beauty.
Plants were living organisms of the kind exemplified by trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, ferns, and mosses. They were collectively referred to as flora by the scientists. Nearly every world with atmosphere contained flora. Most commonly, plants absorbed water and inorganic substances through their roots, and synthesized both nutrients in soil and sunlight. They could also be grown in artificial light. On desert worlds like Byss in the Outer Rim Territories, plants had developed extensive taproots to extract water from the deep underground layers. However, there existed carnivorous plants, which derived most of their nutrients from trapping and digesting animal victims.
Plants typically grew in a permanent site, but some could move about in search of better light, nutrients or soils. As plants grew, they went to seed to bear their young, and then slowly decayed to organic matter and fertilized their habitat for subsequent generations. Plant life could also be found underwater, in which case it was often known as alga. Within a given ecosystem, the diversity of plant life could be extremely high—on the planet Alderaan alone, there existed more than 8,000 different species of grass.
Seed plants bore specific reproductive organs known as flowers. The basic structure of flowers was much the same across the galaxy, with a stamen, anther, and pollen. The pollen was a microscopic powder the spread of which allowed plants to reproduce, and was transported by various pollination-agents like the wind, insects, or other animals. The flying, non-sentient insects called bees were known to bumble their way in the blossoms, thus helping pollinate those plants and ensure their survival.
Animal species often found it difficult to communicate with plants, since their entire life was based upon an existence where food was present every day. They lacked many concepts Humans and other animal species found natural, but some plants were, in fact, sentient. Vegetal species typically possessed passive natural defenses, such as burrs poisonous leaves or fruits. On the planet Cona, water was scarce, and many plants had evolved ways to defend their water supply, which they stored in gastric pods underground. The plants would poison the water, make thorn traps, and some were carnivorous.
Even regular, non-sentient plants were suffused with the Force, like any other type of lifeform. They could "feel" what happened to them and had a certain awareness of their surroundings, but they were not considered properly conscious. On the contrary, some plant species like the Neti from Myrkr, the Ergesh from Ergeshui, or the Revwien from Revyia had evolved to full sentience, while others like the fftssfft of Endor were only semi-sapient.
Flowers and plants in culture
In the galaxy, many species would feed on plants, either exclusively—in the case of herbivores—or inclusively—in the case of omnivores. Non-sentient plants provided many parts that were marketed as food, including their leaves, fruits, roots and seeds. Such edible plant parts included the manak leaves, the avedame fruit and the ruik root. Others were used for their medicinal properties, like the bachani plant from Ithor, the namana fruits from Bakura, the carnivorous reeksa plant on Iego or the rare bota species that could be found on Drongar. The scientific study of plants and their properties was called botany. Some species produced particularly devoted botanists: the Ho'Din from Moltok were reputed for working medical miracles using plants, and the Ithorians were committed to studying and preserving the lush ecosystem of their planet.
In certain cases, plants could even be used as weapons, like the infamous grenade fungi of Yavin 4 or the widowmakers of Dononter Minor. The Barundi believed that when a person strays from peace without provocation, they are in need of "assisted reincarnation". The offender was then beaten to death in public with large flowers. The true cause of death, however, is most likely from the poisonous thorns in the petals.
Most medicines, even those who are now synthesized, had their beginnings in forest environments. Without medicinal plants, doctors would be completely dependent on chemical cures, many of which were less effective than natural ones. Some medicines, such as Shiarha Root, could not be synthesized. Furthermore, bacteria and other disease-causing organisms tended to mutate and become resistant to medicines, and new ones had to be found to combat deadly diseases. One important source of exotic plants that were used for pharmaceutical purposes was the planet Meris III, where a small harvesting station and landing field oversaw harvesting. Illegal harvesters would sometimes try to steal the plants and take them to other planets for processing.
Plant Surge was a was a light side Force power that was based around the channeling of life essence into plants, causing them to grow suddenly. Although this skill was common among Ithorian priests, few Jedi had mastered it. The technique could be used to make plants lash out at the enemy during battle.
In the galactic community, flowers were often used for decorative purpose, either cut or not cut. Flowers could be used inside a home in order to make it more beautiful. Cut flowers could be kept in vases filled with water or made into bouquets, which were offered as tokens of love or respect.
Some women liked to have flowers twisted in their hair, or tucked behind their ear. People would also cultivate certain plants and flowers like the deep red Malreaux roses because of their agreeable appearance and smell: for example, the Lars family used to grow purple blossoms in the courtyard of their homestead.
Many people liked to liven up and enhance the beauty of their property by having a garden filled with plants like trees, shrubs or flowers. The Grand Palace of Gala was famous for its extensive gardens, where every plant, tree, and flower native to Gala was represented. Tchuspera bushes could be found decorating avenues on Coruscant. Even the Galactic Emperor Palpatine enjoyed a botanical garden complete with many flowers of different colors within his personal skyhook. Plants were also used to decorate public places. For example, the wall surrounding the capital of the planet Romin was planted with cloudflower vines.
The brandishing of a flower was also recognized as a universal symbol of peace. It was notably used by Rodian pacifists—a rarity among their kind. The Barundi would often greet strangers by presenting them with flowers. Similarly, when the Ewoks from Endor first met the stormtroopers, the elite soldiers of the Galactic Empire, they welcomed them with flowers. However, when the curious Ewoks tried to use a stormtrooper's blaster rifle for a flower holder, the soldier opened fire.
Plantlike and floral motifs were also broadly used in decorative arts, especially on worlds that preserved the natural beauty of their landscapes, like Naboo. Sometimes, the clothes of females were decorated with flower-like ornaments, and pieces of architecture were adorned with stylized vegetal motifs.
Behind the scenes
Plant life was first introduced in the original Star Wars trilogy, which featured many real-life plants. The forests scenes of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi were shot at Redwood National Park in Crescent City, California, featuring notably giant redwoods and sword ferns.
Notes and references
- Alien Encounters
- Star Wars Episode I: The Gungan Frontier
- Endor and the Moddell Sector"—Star Wars Gamer 9 "
- Dark Forces: Jedi Knight audio drama
- Star Wars: Behind the Magic
- Galaxy of Fear: Spore
- Young Jedi Knights: Jedi Under Siege
- The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 18 (ALD1-4, Alderaan)
- Dark Nest I: The Joiner King
- Yoda: Dark Rendezvous
- Wicket Goes Fishing: An Ewok Adventure
- Planets of the Galaxy, Volume One
- Galaxy Guide 4: Alien Races, p. 14
- Before the Storm
- Ultimate Alien Anthology
- Galaxy Guide 12: Aliens — Enemies and Allies, pp. 73-75
- Castaways of Endor
- MedStar II: Jedi Healer
- Republic Commando: Triple Zero
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
- The Truce at Bakura
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Mystery of a Thousand Moons"
- Millennium Falcon
- The Lost City of the Jedi
- The Last Jedi, p. 377
- Endor and the Moddell Sector"—Star Wars Gamer 9 "
- Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika
- "The Quality of Mercy"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 1
- Planets of the Galaxy, Volume Three, p. 72
- Power of the Jedi Sourcebook, p. 14
- Jedi Academy Training Manual, p. 28
- Jedi Quest: The Changing of the Guard, p. 82
- Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice, chapter two
- Death Star, chapter 46
- Legacy of the Force: Revelation, p. 359
- Jedi Quest: The Changing of the Guard, p. 91
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Jedi Quest: The Changing of the Guard, pp. 33, 40
- Jedi Apprentice: The Mark of the Crown, p. 25
- Shadows of the Empire novel
- Jedi Quest: The Changing of the Guard, p. 31
- Heroes & Rogues
- "Apocalypse Endor"
- Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 2