Real Life, but some creators don't think this is quite enough. And what better way to make them even more alluring that making them glow?
These luminous plants can appear for several reasons. They can bring a distinct alien and strange feeling to the scenery, being a shorthand visual clue that the location displayed is definitely at the very least unusual. Gleaming plants can also be featured in dark areas as Fantastic Light Sources, allowing both the characters and the public to see, even if they don't carry any light source by themselves. And finally, glowing flowers can be used solely for Scenery Porn purposes, since shimmering flora glimmering in the darkest nights can make some definitely gorgeous backgrounds.
Contrary to animals, for which bioluminescence is Truth in Television for some species, plants never display such feature in Real Life, as it would be an utter waste of energy. They don't need to glow to attract preys or to see in the dark, so it would be pointless to use energy on bioluminescence.
Mushrooms can be used that way too, since fiction almost constantly puts the plants and the mushrooms in the same basket despite them belonging to vastly different life kingdoms. Although this trope when applied to mushrooms could be somehow Truth in Television, though they are nowhere near as bright in Real Life as they are in fiction.
Examples:Anime and Manga
- The Olin Maris in Akagami no Shirayukihime is a rare vine with glowing flowers that poisons nearby water. Shirayuki and a group of other researchers spend some time experimenting to find a way to get it to bloom and glow without becoming poisonous.
Film — Animated
- The Beast's rose in Beauty and the Beast emits a powerful rose glow. Justified, as it's a magical rose, and its glowing shows the power and importance of the flower.
- Glowing mushrooms are used as lighting inside the anthill on A Bug's Life.
- In FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Zach and Krysta hop on some luminescent shelf fungi.
- Mrs. Brisby from The Secret of NIMH manages to find a gorgeous inner sanctum inside the rosebush. The approach way is lit by the blooms of flowers bedded alongside the path. These blooms go dim and close tightly as Brisby comes near, darkening the area ominously.
- The Magical Golden Flower in Tangled is a magical lily that can heal every injury. Its status is highlighted by the strong yellow glow it emits.
Film — Live-Action
- In Avatar, the alien jungles of Pandora contain an enormous variety of bioluminescent plants, with almost every form of plant life giving off some blue or purple glow. This results in some very surreal forests, and the nighttime experience is as such rather different from nights on Earth — it's a whole lot less dark, to begin with.
- In Guardians of the Galaxy, when the team explores a dark chamber to retrieve the Orb from Ronan, the tree alien Groot expels a cloud of bioluminescent seeds to light the darkness.
- In Junction Point, when Liu enters the habitat dome of the alien Rudak, every surface is covered in plant-like life that glows in greens and blues.
- In The Lord of the Rings, the flowers in Morgul Vale are luminescent, though the effect is more Scenery Gorn than Scenery Porn.
- In Men at Arms, the narrator at one point explains that dungeons and caves (such as the abandoned sewers the protagonists are currently running through) always have bioluminescent mushrooms, or glowing muck, or just glow in general, so passing heroes can see their way. As the protagonists at the moment consist of a dwarf and a troll, both of whom can see in darkness just fine, the effect is somewhat wasted.
- In the Xanth novel The Source Of Magic, sunflower blossoms are tiny glowing suns. They give off light equal to daylight that's capable of blinding others. When a sunflower goes to seed, the light fades.
- In Warrior Cats, the Whispering Cave in SkyClan's gorge has phosphorescent moss growing inside. The cats find it odd and mysterious, and it ends up being the place where they can communicate with StarClan, the spirits of their ancestors.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, glowing fungi and lichens appear in the underground settings of several 1st Edition AD&D adventures, including D1 Descent Into the Depths of the Earth, D2 Shrine of the Kuo-Toa, Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits and A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords. They are included to make it easier for PC adventurers to see if they lose their artificial light sources.
- In Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, the mushrooms in Crumble Cavern provide a gentle glimmer that helps to light up the grotto.
- Don't Starve:
- The extensive cave systems accessible through sinkholes are home to two types of bioluminescent plants, the mushtrees — tree-sized mushrooms that shine with faint blue, red or green glows, depending on which color variation they come in — and light flowers — true plants that sprout either one, two or three glowing white spheres at the end of tall stalks. Since the caves are otherwise completely lightless, and since in Don't Starve walking into the darkness is an excellent way of dying a horrible death, the occasional groves of mushtrees and light flowers provide invaluable oases of relative safety. The bulbs of light flowers can also be used to craft lanterns, although doing so also means shrinking the size of the permanent illuminated areas.
- Glow berries, also found in the caves, are a subversion. At first they appear to be a small plant with a fruit that gives off a faint blue light... until you get close, at which point they're revealed to be the stalked, glowing lures of giant wormlike predators using your attraction to light to draw you within striking range.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- There's a couple of types of glowing mushrooms in Morrowind — violet coprusnote and luminous russula.
- In Skyrim glowing mushrooms can be found growing in some caves. There is also the nirnroot, a plant which glows and makes a sound. Alson caverns the the Valley of the Falmer are lit by glowing flowers that can retract themselves to their shells.
- Eternal Sonata has the Heaven's Mirror (also known as Death Lights), which absorb sunlight during the day and open at night, glowing brightly.
- Fallout: In the setting's post-apocalyptic world, it's not an uncommon side effect of the heavy radiation, widespread mutagens and generally seemingly omnipresent mutations for sections of the flora to develop bioluminescence.
- Fallout: New Vegas fills most of the caves with glowing, apparently radioactive fungus.
- Fallout 4:
- There are clusters of tall-stalked mushrooms scattered throughout the game world that glow with a steady green light.
- The expansion Far Harbor introduces the lure weeds, aquatic plants found floating on standing water throughout the Island. Each plant sports one or two tall stalks tipped with flower-like structures that emit a bright yellow glow, strong enough to be visible during the day. Unfortunately, these structures look a great deal like the lures of the anglers, highly mutated, humanoid anglerfish the size of a person, which have developed the habit of lurking amongst patches of lure weeds, disguising their own lure as another plant as they wait for prey to walk close.
- Several flowers are glowing faintly in Flower, and the fourth level, which takes place at nighttime, takes it to breathtakingly gorgeous extremes, with entire fields of luminous flowers looking like pretty fireflies.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the humongous mushrooms Link encounters in the dark corners of Skyview Temple emit a strong light blue glimmer that allows Link to see.
- Several plants and mushrooms glow during the night in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, most notably the Silent Shroom. It renders them far more noticeable to the player. Also, in the Korok Forest, there are luminescent peapods that act like streetlights.
- Luminescent mushrooms grow on the massive tree around which the Haunted Towers are built in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, adding to the general eeriness of the building.
- In Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, the flowers in the darkest part of Gloomy Woods glow in a soothing, yellow light adding to the eerie and supernatural atmosphere. Unfortunately, that doesn't ward the Boos away.
- Mass Effect: Andromeda: The Heleus Cluster has many examples of glowing trees and fungi. Jaal, a local, advises not to touch the ones found on Havarl, which are poisonous to the touch.
- Many flowers in the magical and beautiful Realm of the Fay in Miitopia start to glow when the night falls, including the gorgeous, giant lotus flowers seen in Lotus Lake and the periwinkles in Bigg Forest.
- Luminescent mushrooms called Common Glowcaps appear in every mainstream game to date, and in 3, their glimmer lightens up dark areas. They're mostly blue, but a pink variation appears in 3. They become particularly important in the fight against the Vehemoth Phosbat and its brood: as these creatures are actively hurt by the light — the Vehemoth is unable to pursue you and your Pikmin while you're standing in a Glowcap's light, and the smaller Phosbats will be quickly killed by the same — it's in your best interests to make as many glowing mushrooms grow throughout the cave the Phosbat lives in as you can.
- Subverted with the Glowstems in 2. They're classified as a plant in the in-game Pikipedia like all other vegetable scenery of importance, Olimar gives them a scientific name and Louie tests them for edibility, same as they do for all other organisms they find... except that they're actually just LEDs half-buried in the ground, which Olimar and Louie have mistaken for light-emitting plants.
- Invoked in Plants vs. Zombies with the Plantern, a plant shaped like a lantern that emits what looks like candlelight. Its main function is to help you see in foggy levels. Also, the Mushroom Garden is lit almost entirely by luminescent fungi.
- Pokémon X and Y gave us Pumpkaboo and its evolution Gourgeist, malevolent Jack-O'Lantern Grass/Ghost Pokémons that emit rays of lights from their pumpkin-like bodies.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon introduced the Illuminating Pokémon Morelull and its evolution, Shiinotic. Both are mushroom Grass/Fairy type Pokémon that glow in dark forests and emit flickering spores. Shiinotic, being one of the most malevolent Fairy types, uses these to confuse humans and Pokémon alike so they get lost forever in the forest, where they then hypnotize them and feed on their Life Energy.
- The Life Fruit in The Sims 3 is a mystical fruit with resurrection properties that gently glows and sports a cute little glimmering halo. It can even be used as a natural light source on the lot. Supernatural also introduced some varieties of bioluminescent mushrooms that can be used to craft potions.
- Bioluminescence biomes are full of glowing plants, alongside glowing rocks and glowing critters. You can harvest the local flora's "glow fibre" to create glowsticks and glowing furniture to light up your own nights, some of which just consist of potting glowing bushes, flowers and vines to use as nightlamps.
- Slime biomes are full of glowing slime pods.
- Florans illuminate their homes with glowing plants that give off a muted green light, instead of using more conventional methods of illumination. Their chief reason for doing this is because, being intelligent plants themselves, they have a profound fear of fire.
- The ocean floors are lit with glowing "oshrooms", or ocean mushrooms.
- Several legendary flowers the Miis can groom in the Streetpass Mii Plaza game Flower Town emit glistening lights, namely the Jack-O'Luna, the Neonara, the Goldenglow, the Feisty Fireworks, and the Sparklestar. After all they are legendary, so it makes them all the more beautiful. All of them are based on light sources: a Jack-O'Lantern, neons, a lantern, fireworks and a starry sky respectively.
- Many deep-sea plants (this includes a tree) featured in Subnautica are just as bioluminescent as the rest of the living things living there. This was probably to exaggerate the stereotypical abyssal theme, since many bioluminescent creatures live in this biome in Real Life.
- In Sunless Sea, Varchas, the Mirrored City, harbours an intense aversion towards darkness. Amongst the many light sources found in the city are some omnipresent luminescent "fungal flowers". One of the quests has Varchas' main mirror shattered, stripping the town of most of its lights, and the fungi stopped glowing at the same time.
- In Sunless Skies, the Reach features a lot of glowing mushroom as well as luminescent spores floating in the air to ramp up the Scenery Porn. Some of these luminous mushrooms are in the same plane as the gameplay, and their blue light is powerful enough to illuminate a decent area around them.
- The grotto Kirby, Mario, Link, Pit and Yoshi visit after stioming into King Dedede's castle in The Subspace Emissary has several patches of glowing mushrooms to provide some light in several areas.
- In Undertale, a lot of places in Waterfall (and a secret location in Snowdin) contain bioluminescent mushrooms that emanate a light blue glow. They can be turned off and on when interacted with.
- In Charby the Vampirate the titular character ends up receiving a pair of glowing acorns from an entity in Kellwood forest that contain some of its essence. He gives one to Victor since he knows Vic is somehow connected to the entity even if Victor is completely unaware.
- Girl Genius: When Agatha's group is traveling the river beneath Paris they pass several groupings of giant glowing toadstools on the riverbanks.
- At one point, the titular character from Roza enters a dark tunnel lit only by the faint aquamarine glow of clusters of mushrooms growing throughout it.
- One of SCP Foundation's entries deals with SCP-621 ("Hypnobulbs"). SCP-621 are an anomalous variant of several types of plants, including tulips (particularly Didier's tulips), roses and lettuce. They are naturally bioluminescent in a variety of colors, but most often purple, blue, or green. The glow has a hypnotizing effect on human beings and many types of animals that causes them to protect the plant.
- At the end of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?", after having overcome an entity that twisted her dreams into nightmares, Luna dreams of enjoying a peaceful, untroubled night's sleep beneath a tree bearing giant, softly glowing blossoms wider than the bed she sleeps on, in the middle of a surreal nighttime dreamscape full of other phosphorescent plants and mushrooms, all of enormous size.