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 as well as Body to Jewel for when it's not trees, but but the (human) body which produces jewelry specifically.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
Tower of God has Jigena's Flower, which grows jewels on it's blossom. The plant is, however, parasitic and in a giant sea monster.
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. Selenites think of gold 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.
The joke about an irate mother whose child keeps taking apples from the kitchen: "Apples don't grow on trees, you know!"
In Big Top Pee Wee, Pee-Wee Herman is a farmer who keeps a hot dog tree under wraps.
In The Magician's Nephew, the kids plant a piece of toffee and it grows into a toffee tree (overnight!), although it only produces remarkably toffee-like fruit instead of actual toffee. They also manage to produce gold and silver trees out of dropped coins, as well as the much more famous iron bar that grows into a gaslamp-post.
When Uncle Andrew realizes the implications of this effect, he starts talking about coming back with guns to take over Narnia and make a fortune turning scrap metal into battleships and train cars. Aslan later explains that his scheme wouldn't have worked, because the only reason Narnia was doing this was that it had been created only the previous day, and it still had a sort of echo of that power in it. Within a few days, the effects would fade and only regular seeds would produce trees.
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.
From the same author, The Diamond Agehas the Chinese trying to create Nanotech "Seed" devices that sprout into items and buildings when planted. They do this to end reliance on the western-controlled "Feed", a Matter Replicator system with a centralized architecture.
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. 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 The Story of Ferdinand 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.
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.
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.
One of Kilgore Trout's short stories mentioned in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five is about a tree that grows money. It is fertilised by the blood of humans who fight over its leaves.
In the Pettson and Findus book A Rumpus in the Garden, Pettson is planting carrots. Findus doesn't like carrots, so he plants a meatball instead.
The famous April Fools' Day programme the BBC ran about the Swiss spaghetti harvest.
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—
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 Mc Clintock 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 Mc Clintock 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"
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.
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 Pixel Junk Monsters it's never a waste of time to sprint through the trees whilst your babies are getting eaten.
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.
SCP-038: The Everything Tree. It grows copies of anything that touches its bark.
In Tales of the Questor, a Journeyman Biomancer creates a species of plant designed to absorb "bauxite contamination" out of the water and soil. The plants dispose of the contamination by forming it into berries—- of solid aluminum (check the punchline). Save for a couple of variant plants that produce rubies and sapphires....
The miscellanopod trees in A Beginners Guide To The End Of The Universe have a whole lot of random items growing on them, such as bacon or weaponry. Hundreds of years in the future, they're humanity's only source of... pretty much anything, seeing as pretty much everything in the universe was destroyed long ago.
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 Smurfs has an episode where Gargamel's mother plants a money tree outside Greedy's house to test his avarice. Although the "money" it produces is actually a confectionery wrapped in golden paper called a "golden goodie", it has the effect of drawing the Smurfs to it and trading what they thought was personally valuable just to have a single piece of the money tree's candy.
On Ed, Edd n Eddy, Rolf tricks Eddy into planting a "money tree" as a prank.
On The Simpsons, Homer fell asleep in church and dreamed that he and Marge were Adam and Eve. One of the things available for their enjoyment in the Garden of Eden is the "porno bush," as well as another bush containing the more innocuous People magazine (featuring just them, since they're the only people around.)
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.
Many mesoarmerican cultures used Cocoa beans as currency. The beans, naturally, grow on cocoa trees, and are the main ingredient in chocolate.
The popular bonsai plant Crassula ovata is nicknamed the "jade plant," the "lucky plant," and the "money tree" for its supposed power to bring good financial luck.