1 The Muppet Mindset: Muppetology 101 - Intro to Fraggle Botany

Jun 12, 2014

Muppetology 101 - Intro to Fraggle Botany

Abigail Maughan - The realm of Fraggle Rock has a vast amount of biodiversity, not only in its heterotrophic life forms, but also in its autotrophic ones. Today we’re going to be studying some of the most notable plant specimens exclusive to Fraggle Rock. There are quite a bit of them, so let’s get started! We’ll be breaking this lesson into two sections—deadly plants, and everything else.

DEADLY PLANTS—


“BIZARRE KILLER PLANTS*”
* The most official name we’re given for the species comes from the Storyteller Fraggle.

SEEN IN: Episode 202: Boober Rock
LOCATION: The Caves of Boredom (or the Caves of Forgetfulness, depending on who you ask.)
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: Large pinkish-purple flowers with twisty green vines
DANGEROUS ABILITY: The flowers release a gas that when inhaled causes the unfortunate victim to forget first personal details, then their entire identities, before eventually reducing them to an unresponsive, catatonic state, having forgotten motor skills and language.
SURVIVAL TIPS: The Fraggle Five survived their encounter with these plants thanks to the strongly-scented laundry cleaner Boober Fraggle conveniently brought along, which allowed them to regain their bearings and flee. The Storyteller also recommends writing down your intentions before going there, in case you forget. Just don’t forget how to read, which is entirely possible. Avoiding the location all together seems like the best survival tip of all.

CLINGING CREEPERS

SEEN IN: Episode 311: The Burden, the Beanbarrow, and the Bright Bouquet
LOCATION: Table Rock Cavern
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: Mobile, bumpy, asparagus-like vines of varying widths
DANGEROUS ABILITY: Despite moving somewhat slowly, they wrap themselves around Fraggles to entangle and strangle them.
SURVIVAL TIPS: The scent of fresh flowers wards Clinging Creepers away, and the Fraggles have organized the Clinging Creepers Emergency Flower Defense League for this very purpose. Having flowers on you or as a companion (like Lanford the plant to Red Fraggle) is also handy.


SINGING CACTI

 SEEN IN: Episode 411: Wonder Mountain
LOCATION: around Wonder Mountain
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: Eyeless cactus creatures with limbs and mouths.
DANGEROUS ABILITY: Singing their inexplicably hypnotic song "Do the Sashay" entrances passersby, who become, as Mokey Fraggle's Wonder Mountain guide book simply puts it, "trapped forever."
SURVIVAL TIPS: Wear earplugs when near them, as Mokey Fraggle did to save Red Fraggle when she fell into their trap, and as they both did when leading the pursuing Avalanche Monster into the pack to save their skins. Better yet, don’t go anywhere near them at all, as they only appear to activate when provoked.

In any environment, deadly and aggressive plants and animals will evolve, and seeing that Fraggle Rock is no exception to this natural law is somewhat satisfying. The intelligence and aptitude of Fraggles has enabled them to survive, thrive, and coexist with these predatory plants. Fortunately, not all plants in Fraggle Rock need to be avoided, as we’ll see next.

PLANTS THAT AREN’T INHERENTLY DANGEROUS—


NIGHT-BLOOMING YELLOW-LEAVED DEATHWORT

FIRST SIGHTING: Episode 220: A Cave of One’s Own
LOCATION: One lives in Mokey and Red’s bedroom.
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: A bumpy, brownish-green head with a toothy mouth, similar to a Venus flytrap, on top of a springy stem with mottled green and yellow leaves. Can also sprout pink-spotted flowers.
CHARACTERISTICS: The living habits of the sentient Deathwort in the wild are unclear, as the only one we’ve seen, Mokey Fraggle’s pet Lanford, is domesticated... sort of. If judging off of Lanford, they appear to be temperamental, stubborn, and mischievous, but intelligent and loyal to their friends. Strangers, enemies, and Red Fraggle, however, would do well to stay away.
UNIQUE ABILITIES: The plants become covered in red spots and must undergo a brief hibernation before flowering. And by “brief,” I do mean as short as approximately one minute and 45 seconds. They communicate using guttural vocalizations, and can understand both Fraggles and other plants.


THE NIRVANA TREE

SEEN IN: Episode 511: The Gorg Who Would Be King
LOCATION: A corner of the Gorgs’ garden
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: Thin golden trunk and branches with golden leaves
IMPORTANCE: According to Gorg culture, the King of the Universe sustains his position until all of the leaves fall off of the Nirvana Tree. After that, the new heir, whoever that may be, takes over.
UNIQUE ABILITIES: In our only sighting of the magic tree, Junior Gorg, reluctant to step up to the job, eats the tree’s last leaf and is immediately shrunken to the size of a Fraggle. He then makes a trip through Fraggle Rock, and is restored to his normal size once he realizes the expansiveness and interconnectivity of the world he lives in. So, in a roundabout way, the Nirvana Tree is responsible for the end of the enmity between the Gorgs and the Fraggles.

KNOBBLIES AND THE TREE OF LIFE

SEEN IN: Episode 506: Beyond the Pond
LOCATION: The tree resides in Merggle Lake, with roots stretching through several underwater tunnels all the way to the Fraggle Pond, much to the annoyance of the pond’s users, namely Red Fraggle.
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: The gnarled pink roots found in the pond are known as Knobblies, and they lead to a massive tree with twisted brown branches.
IMPORTANCE: The immense Great Tree, also known as the Tree of Life, is the home of a marine Fraggle-like species with flippered tails called Merggles. The Merggles’ prophetess Merboo describes the tree as “the center of all life, and the probe into the unknown.”
UNIQUE ABILITES: The roots are capable of transmitting telepathic messages to and from whoever touches them.
WEAKNESS: As Red learns, then later regrets and remedies, the plant can be killed with Kohlrabi juice.

RADISHES

SEEN IN: The radish, or Raphanus sativus, is the most vital plant in all of Fraggle Rock, and is seen in some form in virtually every single episode.
LOCATION: Grown in the Gorgs’ garden. Also the only plant on this particular list to exist outside the realm of Fraggle Rock.
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: Red spherical vegetable with single root stretching out the bottom. Green leaves grow above the ground for photosynthesis and convenient pulling purposes.
IMPORTANCE TO FRAGGLES: Inadvertently discovered by a young Traveling Matt, radishes replaced mushrooms as the primary food source of the Fraggles. A majority of Fraggle culinary dishes and treats are made from radishes, such the coveted Radish Bar snacks. Mokey Fraggle is one of the designated collectors of the vegetable.
IMPORTANCE TO DOOZERS: Doozers collect radishes by their own means, grind them up, and mold them into building material. The Fraggles eat the finished constructions, allowing the Doozers more space to build, showing symbiosis at work.
IMPORTANCE TO GORGS: Gorgs supply the radishes, but rely on them as well, for the plant is a crucial ingredient in Anti-Vanishing Cream, which Gorgs must apply regularly to stop themselves from physically disappearing from the top downward.
The radish is arguably the best, or at least the most clear, example of the innate interdependency that Fraggle Rock illustrates so frequently. As Junior Gorg so eloquently puts it, “It all fits together!”

The flora of Fraggle Rock serves many purposes, from providing food to inspiring tales and traditions. Fraggle Rock is such a unique and wondrous place, that examining the diversity of all its life forms, even the ones without dialogue, provides real insight into the creative minds behind this amazing ecosystem. The landscape of Fraggle Rock isn’t a sterile, Styrofoam backdrop; it’s a rich, vibrant world.





The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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