It's common for World Building writers to Hand Wave the agricultural practices of their fictional planet, Lost World or fantasy culture. When mentioned at all, often this topic will be minimized by letting virtually all of an invented society's needs be met by just one or two domestic crops, or a single kind of livestock. If a plant's roots can be eaten half a dozen ways, its stems burned for fuel, its leaves converted into textiles and its sap brewed into alcohol, it's this trope. Likewise, if the dominant livestock is an easily-reared Explosive Breeder that (conveniently) supplies all the dietary needs of a population on its own.
There is at least some Truth in Television to this, but it's somewhat Downplayed in Real Life. Quite a few plants and animals actually do have a lot of possible uses, but many of them are primarily raised for just one or two, and it's extremely rare for a society to be solely dependent a single crop/livestock for almost everything. Sometimes it's an Invoked Trope: if something is easy enough to raise on a large scale, it makes sense to try and find as many ways to use it as you can.
The agricultural equivalent of Green Rocks and When All You Have Is a Hammer.... If this particular crop/livestock's production is the foundation for an entire culture, it can help define a Planet of Hats or One-Product Planet, possibly resulting in a Terminally Dependent Society. May be an indication of current or Lost Organic Technology within the setting. Soylent Soy may be an example, if derived from a single crop species rather than blending two or more.
- Robotech has the Invid Flower of Life. Scientific discoveries derived from this plant triggered the protoculture wars, as the Robotech Masters seek to control its secrets, the Invid go on a genocidal Roaring Rampage of Revenge in response, and Earth is caught in the middle. Among the products produced from it:
Chemicals used in genetic engineering, allowing the creation of the Robotech Masters' Henchmen Race, the Zentraedi.
A drug that gives virtual immortality to the Robotech Masters.
A catalyst critical to operation of the Robotech Masters' FTL drive.
- The B-Ms from Bio-Meat: Nectar are examples of this trope Gone Horribly Wrong.
- Genetically engineered and automatically grown Hyper Oats are the cornerstone of the Orwellian society of future Japan in Psycho-Pass, which relies on shutting the whole populace in the cities and the fact that Future Food Is Artificial.
- Happened out of necessity in Toriko when Midori devastated the Human World's food infrastructure leaving people with nothing but reserves and rations: The discovery of the Billion Bird, an Explosive Breeder whose body parts could substitute for a number of staple crops, allowed people to eat food that could remotely pass for normal, and for some time, humanity subsisted almost entirely on Billion Birds and their derivatives. Eventually averted as Toriko and his friends imported in enough raw food from the Gourmet World to satiate everyone.
- The shmoo, from Li'l Abner, provides meat (several flavors), milk, eggs, butter, leather, wood-substitute, buttons and toothpicks. The milk, eggs and butter come already bottled/packaged. The shmoo takes this trope Up to Eleven: not only do they provide all of the above, they are also Explosive Breeders as well as requiring no food whatsoever (only fresh air). Plus, their "shmoosicals" are so darned entertaining to watch, they've pretty much made television, as an entertainment medium, obsolete.
- Moana: The various real-life uses for the coconut palm in Polynesian culture are described in the song "Where You Are". The death of some of the groves is one of the first signs that something is not right in the world.
- Corn is this trope in Interstellar, but by default rather than choice: it's the only field crop left that hasn't been wiped out by the Blight.
- In the Humanx Commonwealth series, Home Trees of Midworld provide food, shelter, and an organic security-system. Pika-pina, from Tran-ky-ky, can be made into sailcloth, paper or rope, its nutrient-rich nodules are edible raw or cooked, and its leaves can be eaten plain, ground into flour, squeezed for juice or dried out as bedding.
- In The Light Fantastic, Cohen the Barbarian spends time with a clan of horse nomads, who use horses for transport, meat, horsehair robes, leather, milk, and a thin beer best not inquired about.note
- The Sto Plains aren't quite like this about cabbages, but it's close. They do brew a cabbage beer (it's got a good head), and the supplementary material mentions clothing, boot soles, and thatching made of cabbage leaves, as well as mobile varieties of cabbage that can eat vermin or serve as guard dogs.
- The children's story Weslandia is about an eccentric outcast cultivating some tall, lotus-resembling flower stalks that magically sprouted in his backyard, which he names "swist". He eventually develops a new writing system and standard of time (with sundials made from the stems), building up the eponymous society and proselytizing his former bullies as new citizens.
The fruit is delicious, and the rinds can be dried into cups
Leaves make a good spice
Inner fibers can be spun into clothes
Oil from the seeds acts as suntan lotion and bug repellant
The crop attracts a whole ecosystem of pleasing animals
- In A Civil Campaign, Enrique Borgos's artificially designed and created "Butter Bugs" are meant to be this. They are large bugs that live in colonies with a Queen and reproduce quickly, yet their breeding is human-controlled so they can't overrun the environment. In their stomachs they secrete 'Bug Butter', which is tasteless, sort of the consistency of tofu, and can supply all your dietary needs: you can practically live off it alone. Their excrement is also excellent fertilizer, and they can be kept at low cost since they can eat just about anything that's organic, including bark, branches and grass. Their marketing didn't exactly take off at first, as people were turned off by their ugly appearance and thought it was pretty disgusting to eat something that was regurgitated by one, until Ekaterin redesigned them to be "Beautiful Butter Bugs". Now it seems they're going to be pretty profitable.
- In The Sharing Knife series by the same author, the Lakewalker culture's very staple food is "plunkins," a sort of big round crunchy fruit grown in ponds that requires a little bit of magic to germinate. It's a bit of a handwave, to give the Lakewalkers an easy source of food so they can focus more of their energies on their hereditary task of eradicating evil monsters, but it's treated realistically: there's only so many ways to cook them, and everyone is very tired of them.
- In The Lorax, the Once-ler uses the tufts from the Lorax's truffula trees to make all-purpose consumer products known as thneeds. Subverted in that the truffula trees aren't being cultivated, just harvested from the wild until there's none left. The original book also makes an off-hand mention that Thneeds can be used for soup, complete with an absurd illustration of a Thneed in a bowl with a spoon sticking out of it.
It's a shirt, it's a sock, it's a glove, it's a hat
And it has other uses, far beyond that
- Anne McCaffrey's Killashandra has a tree that grows in the wild perform this function on a chain of islands on a planet the protagonist vacations on. It's called "the polly tree", get it? It provides a surprisingly easy living for Killashandra when she is stranded on a small island for weeks.
- Blood Lotus from The Lotus War. Medicine from its sap, tea and smokes from its leaves, rope and canvas from its stems, and the local answer to "gasoline" from its seeds. Subverted in that it's what turned the setting into a Crapsack World (its roots produce a poisonous liquid that ruins soil quality unless it's fed blood and the fuel processed from its seeds doesn't burn very cleanly), that and the Mega-Corp that worships it. It's implied that its pollen contributes to the Greenhouse Effect.
- Tuf Voyaging: After the planet of S'uthlam overpopulates past the ability of his other food crops to feed them, Tuf finally provides "manna", a plant which grows anywhere, provides all the nutrition a human needs, and tastes different and wonderful every time. It's also symbiotically bound to a fungus which irreversibly sterilizes 95% of the people who eat it, thus solving the overpopulation issue once and for all. He'd been escalating the multipurpose aspects over his three visits, but for religious reasons the S'uthlamese tended towards hostility to anything like birth control, as well as having a tendency to react to being told things were getting better by having more children, hence why he put in the sterility aspect in his last move (without telling the general public, of course), the mannanot doing something to curb S'uthlam's population would just have meant the same problem returning a few years later, and sooner or later he'd run out of ways to make significant improvements to Suthlam's food supply.
- A short story by Vonda N. McIntyre depicts Earth as having exactly two species: humanity and a plant that can be processed into literally anything imaginable — food, construction, fuel, and everything else. What happened to everything else? Humanity essentially exterminated every other species, down to the microflora, so the plant would never have any competition. We then dutifully recorded every genome and proceeded to sit on them with no intention of ever using the data, leaving humanity alone with the plant.
- In R. A. Lafferty's short story "Dorg", a cartoonist dreams up a large rock-eating edible animal to amuse an increasingly famished planet. Then an actual dorg turns up, evidently because he'd concocted it.
- The amela tree in Gerald Durrell's book The Mockery Bird. The entire economy of the island Zenkali relies on cultivating these trees and exporting products made of its various parts.
- While generally averted in Destroyermen, polta fruit seems to have shades of this. It's an extremely versatile fruit that can be eaten, fermented into seep (an intoxicant), mashed into a paste that has antiseptic properties, and, as discovered eventually, can be used as battery acid.
- In Ursula K. Le Guin's novel The Dispossessed, the population of the moon-world Anarres cultivate a scraggly shrub plant called Hollum to produce all their textile & paper goods, as a building material, as fuel for fires, and for basically everything they can because it is by far the most plentiful vegetation on their dry & dusty planet.
- Radishes in Fraggle Rock. For Fraggles it's their main food source. Doozers use it as building material (which is why Fraggles find it delicious, although they don't know about it). Gorgs, who grow it in the first place, use it for anti-vanishing cream, which keeps them from fading away to nothing.
- Gilligan's Island does this with a combination of bamboo and palm trees. Since the characters are stranded on an island, they have to make do with whatever grows there. Bamboo is their go-to building material for making anything. It's in their huts, furniture, rafts, a hot air balloon, a plumbing system, a pedal-powered car, Mr. Howell's golf clubs, the Professor's lab equipment, you name it. Meanwhile, palm trees provide palm leaves for making their huts and coconuts as one of their main food sources, with the shells used as everything from drinking cups to battery rechargers. The one thing bamboo and palm trees can't do is fix the boat.
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: One of the real life examples is referenced. Jacqueline complains that her Native American parents were dumb for teaching her to use the whole buffalo. "Some parts just aren't good, guys! For example: the poop." Her parents point out that they never told her to use the poop. It should be noted that buffalo-hunting tribes did use the dung for various purposes.
- "The Wompom", a song by Flanders and Swann, about the world's most miraculous, all-purpose plant.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide recommended that DMs incorporate some made-up variety of vegetation or prey into their campaign worlds, that can generate lots of easy food and thus make the abundance of big predatory monsters a bit less implausible.
- Later D&D attempts to justify the underground world of the Underdark, as well as some deep dwarven halls and other underground dungeons, explain away many needs with some kind of fungus. Eating fungi, drinking fungus beer, feeding beasts of burden, lighting via luminescent fungus...
- Warhammer 40,000: Many inhabitants of the Imperium of Man subsist on grox, an aggressive breed of reptile which has replaced cattle, along with whatever it is soylens viridiens is made of. (Grox in the good years, algae in the not-so-good years, in the bad years... don't ask.)
- In the Talislanta game, parts of the viridia plant can be used for everything from flour to fabric to lumber to oil to naturally-grown canoes. Justified by A Wizard Did It.
- Crops in Dwarf Fortress might be cookable into meals, brewable into booze, millable into sugar or dye, pressable into wax and oil, processable into thread or leaves, or any number of other uses. Plump helmets are notorious for having the most uses among crops, including the unique quality of being edible raw. Among animals, sheep and goats are prized since they can produce meat, milk, bones, leather, and wool without requiring much grazing area, and poultry are prized for meat, bones, eggs, leather, and truly explosive breeding... and at present they don't require food or feeding.
- The Avernum series, like the D&D example above, resorts to fungi of some sort or another to satisfy countless needs in the deep cavern realm of Avernum. Most varieties were purposely magically engineered for different uses by the first exiles thrown down into Avernum to die. There are also the giant cave lizards, kept for meat and leather as well as (bad-tempered) draft animals.
- Subnautica has a downplayed version of this in the Creepvine. Although the player will require other plants to fulfill all of their material needs to progress in the game, creepvines have more diverse functions than any other plant or lifeform:
- Transplanted creepvines are bioluminescent, serving as an external light source roughly on par with searchlights or floodlights but without the significant power draw.
- Creepvine leaves:
- Are edible, though there are much better food sources since creepvine samples were nerfed note
- Can be woven into textiles, useful for bandages and clothing
- Can also be woven into rope note
- Creepvine seed pods:
- Secrete an oily industrial-strength lubricant
- Can be rendered down into silicone rubber
- Also, all parts of the Creepvine can be used to power the Bioreactor, though like their use as food they're extremely inefficient compared to other available energy sources. note
- Rimworld: Healroot seems to cover just about any medical application one could think of, be it anesthesia, boosting the immune system, disinfecting and general healing. Fundamental part of any medkit and can work like a primitive one all on its own. It's suggested genetic engineering was involved in the distant past.
- Ben 10: Omniverse: Revonnah's Amber Ogia is this taken Up to Eleven and beyond. The Revonnaganders use this fruit for food, drink, cloth, construction and more. Its usefulness has been targeted by villains who want to use it for their own gains. It was the main ingredient in Dr. Psychobos' mind control serum. It can be made into a fuel that could power the villains' entire invasion. Oh, and when we say "food," we mean all food on Revonnah is Amber Ogia processed, prepared, and seasoned in different ways. Pretty much every aspect of their lives is fueled by the stuff in some manner.
- Filmation's Ghostbusters has "Moon-Blooms," a potato-likenote plant that's grown on the Moon and, according to Prime Evil, "can wipe out hunger...I don't like that!" Each Moon-Bloom pod is filled with a thick, nutritious pink paste, which tastes and smells wonderful (given that it's pink, the flavor must be "bubble-gum"), and is very sticky. All three of these qualities are bad news for Prime Evil: Squeezing a pod and covering him in its sap makes him fly into a rage.
- Soybeans are a Real Life example, being the source of numerous processed foods and food additives, as well as oils useful in biodiesel, soap, cosmetics, inks, solvents, crayons, and clothing.
- Maize (corn). You can:
- Eat it: And in so many ways!
- As sweet corn: On the cob, in niblets, grilled, boiled, steamed, creamed, as baby corn...
- As ground corn: In grits and its friends (polenta, pap, nshima, congee...), in cornbread, in fritters, in junk foods (Fritos! Cheetos! Doritos!), as tortillas, in your breakfast cereal (cornflakes!), in the delicious batter on your corndog...
- As oil (to fry half of the things mentioned above).
- Or as starch to thicken (and add a nice sheen to) your gravy, soup, or whatever. Or as starch to bind a marinade to meat/vegetables. Or as starch to make your omelet moister. Or as starch mixed with water or eggs to make a batter for meat/vegetables. (Most of these uses for cornstarch come from Chinese cuisine, which has gone completely gaga for cornstarch—it has so many uses in today's Chinese cooking that most cooks in modern China keep it right next to the stove in a three-in-one container alongside the salt and sugar.)
- Or as syrup for sweetening sugary foods. Corn syrup is even the traditional sweetener in pecan pie.
- Or combine oil + kernels and Pass the Popcorn.
- You can even eat the silk! (One episode of Iron Chef Japan had Sakai deep-frying it to make an edible decoration for his dish — to the confusion and then delight of the tasters.)
- Drink it: As high-fructose corn syrup (meh), or in beer (blech), as Chicha (both without and with alcohol) or in corn liquor (Moonshine!), or take that and age it in toasted barrels (bourbon!).
- Feed it to your animals: They eat it right up and get nice and fat for the slaughter.
- It also makes a nice hunting bait for this reason. You can even age it so that only certain species are interested in it.
- Burn it: Either by burning ethanol distilled from the kernels or by burning the "waste products" (e.g. cobs and husks). The former sees use in cars and other applications; the latter was traditional in the Americas for a very long time (cobs and husks make great kindling).
- Wear it: Either by weaving/braiding strips of husks (hats, shoes, handbags and more can be made this way) or by manufacturing textile fibers from material extracted from the plant.
- Extract starch from it: Other than the culinary uses, the starch can be used for more than just stiffening shirts.
- Extract oil from it: Like the starch, the oil has many more uses than the obvious ones like burning and cooking.
- Smoke out of it: Corncob pipes!
- Have fun in it: If you plant your field right, you have a maize maze.
- Treat yourself with it: Corn silk is a common herbal supplement. And half the stuff sold in pharmacies probably contains corn.
- Decorate your house with it: In the autumn.
- Film it: Because fields of it are great settings for suspenseful movie scenes. Corn syrup is also a typical ingredient in classic movie-set sugar glass (as it keeps the sucrose from recrystallizing as it cools, keeping the panel clear and glasslike).
- Piddle on it: If you're a pet whose litter box is filled with shredded corn-cob litter.
- Even play music with it!
- And back in the 19th century, you'd find corncobs used as toilet paper and corn husks used as packing material. No wonder maize is the world's biggest crop.
- The United States is often described as having a "corn-based economy" given how much corn is produced and how many of the above uses said corn is put to, feeding the population and supplying all sorts of other industries.
- Eat it: And in so many ways!
- In Colonial America, farmers claimed they used "every part of the pig but the squeal".
- To this day, scrapple, popular in Eastern Pennsylvania (plus Greater Philadelphia, which includes South Jersey and the parts of Delaware that people forget about the least) is made from "every part of the pig but the oink". It also includes cornmeal. (See what we mean?)
- In another part of the world, that is what the Chinese are doing right now: For every single part of a pig there is at least one Chinese dish out there using it.
- A similar mentality is often attributed to Okinawans in Japan, perhaps because Okinawa has had more historical contact with China than the rest of Japan. The cuisine is said to begin and end with pig, despite being a warm, tropical island and part of a culture where rice, fish, and soy are the most common foods in the rest of the country. They, too, claim to be able to use everything but the squeal, and offal is quite a common dish.
- Pigs' pancreas was a common pharmacological source for insulin, before biotechnology gave us other methods of producing it.
- The miracle tree (Moringa oleifera) is an awesome example of this. Originally from Southeast Asia, they are now used in many subtropical parts of the world to help combat malnutrition. Immature green pods of the tree are said to have a kind of green bean with a hint of asparagus taste, its seeds are roasted like peas or nuts, the flowers taste like mushrooms, and the roots can be shaved into a horseradish-like condiment.
- According to this article: Moringas are among the worlds most nutritious plants. Their leaves can be eaten raw, cooked, or ground into baby formula. They contain four times the calcium of milk, three times the potassium of bananas, four times the Vitamin A of carrots, seven times the Vitamin C of oranges, and about half again the protein of soybeans. The seeds can be pressed for an unsaturated fat like olive oil or crushed into a powder that purifies water(!): its electrolytes attract impurities and precipitate them out of the fluid. Best of all, Moringas are fast-growing and extremely drought-tolerant.
- More details on Moringa seeds purifying water.
- Hemp can be used for food (the seeds), medicine (against aczema and inflammation), as rope (to the point of being synonymous), for fabric for clothing, sacks and sails, as building material, as jewelry, it can be made into paper and plastic, and it can be used for fuel, weed control and water purification. And yes, it has that other use too.
- Something of an Invoked Trope example, as some of those alternate uses were specifically devised by folks who'd like to see the aforesaid "other use" decriminalized, so promote its virtues as a Multipurpose Monocultured Crop in hope of improving its image.
- Of course, there's a big difference between industrial hemp and the drug kind, with the industrial variety being cultivated for rope, fuel, etc. and having 90% less THC than the drug type. Again, this is specifically invoked.
- Then again, it's rare to encounter a culture that actually uses it for all these uses and has no other crops. In that light only corn can really count.
- Something of an Invoked Trope example, as some of those alternate uses were specifically devised by folks who'd like to see the aforesaid "other use" decriminalized, so promote its virtues as a Multipurpose Monocultured Crop in hope of improving its image.
- Coconut trees to Polynesian cultures. The coconut flesh, the coconut water, the coconut cream made from cooked coconut, the fibres from the husk used for toilet paper or kindling or to make rope or clothing, the leaves to roof shelters, the leaves used as plates, the leaves used as hats, the shells used as bowls, cups, canteens, fishing floats, raft floats, to make small knives, the wood...
- Another non-crop example, at least to the Plains Indians, was the American Bison. The big, bulky ungulates were their source of meat, shelter, utensils, clothes, rope, containers, needles, ornaments, healing ointments, glue, and much, much more. Everything was used, right down to their scrotums and dung (the former for rattles and the latter for fuel and preventing diaper rash when powdered). Tragically, this dependence led to massive starvation for the Plains Indians when the bison were hunted to near extinction due to commercial hunting by colonists.
- Notably exploited by none other than General William Tecumseh Sherman. He had a personal vendetta against Indian raiders after nearly being a victim of caravan raid. Where previous generals had tried to wipe native Americans out outright, he merely encouraged people to hunt the bison as an industry. The resulting depopulation of bison had the same effect as his famous destruction of Southern agriculture and industry during the Civil War: the Plains Indians could either submit to the United States or starve.
- Nomadic and herder populations worldwide who have "adopted" a particular animal have ended up engaging in similar practices, using the animal in every way possible. The Discworld example above about horse nomads is based on historical accounts of the Mongols, who supposedly even drank horse blood as an emergency food. The Maasai of Kenya still mix cow blood with milk as a protein source (along with meat), though less commonly than they used to (particularly the more urbanized ones and the ones who have converted to Islam—the former because it's not necessary, the latter because their new religion forbids consuming blood).
- George Washington Carver discovered over 300 uses for peanuts, but did not invent peanut butter. He also discovered over 100 uses for sweet potatoes.
- Apples are pretty versatile as well. You can:
- Eat them:
- Raw (though for most of their history, that use was only reserved for a select few types. Most apples taste horrible when eaten straight from the tree).
- Cooked - in many different ways: baked apples, apple pie, apple cake, apple crisp, apple strudel, apple cobbler Apples are also strong supporting players in a wide variety of other dishes; cooking apples with pork is particularly classic.
- Dried - as apple chips.
- Puréed - as applesauce.
- As jam - natural enzymes in the apple even help with preservation. Green apples are often added to other fruit jams to increase their pectin content (the Gourmet Makes episode on recreating Gushers shows how it's done).
- As flavoring - juice up your roast or make apple cider vinegar (which itself has several applications outside of food).
- Candied - just put a stick through them and roll them in toffee or caramel.
- Drink them - as juice (the classic kid's drink), hard cider (when Johnny Appleseed went around giving out apple seeds, that was what he had in mind; hard cider was the most common alcoholic beverage in the US during the Antebellum era), calvados (a French brandy), or applejack (no, not that one (although that's probably where her name came from), a traditionally freeze-distilled sort of brandy).
- Make industrial use of the alcohol - in theory, you can run your car on apples.
- Store them (at least some types) for almost a year - without refrigeration. In the days before imported bananas in Fairbanks, Alaska in January, that was a huge advantage in getting over the winter.
- Use them or their blossoms as decorations (apples were the predecessor of modern glass-based Christmas tree ornaments).
- Care for your body with them - they can also be used in medicine, cosmetics and personal hygiene products. In fact, in herbal medicine, an apple tree borders on a Panacea.
- Use the tree for wood: Both as a material and as a fuel:
- Applewood is good for turning and can be used to make furniture, housewares, and decorative items.
- Applewood also burns well; its sweet-smelling smoke can impart a good flavor on many smoked foods (applewood-smoked bacon and cheese are particularly famous).
- Play with them - bobbing for apples or tree climbing.
- Tempt people with them.
- And the best thing is: Apples, which originated from the mountains of Central Asia, grow on slopes and relatively bad lands and when you leave enough space between them you can let animals (pigs for instance) graze between them. With the right mix of types you can pick the first apples in July or August and the last ones in November and store some of them until the next season - there is a reason why in some contexts "apple" just meant generic fruit of any kind.
- For some more on that see this video.
- Eat them:
- Sheep belong on this list. You can eat their meat, drink their milk or make dairy products from their milk. You can make clothing, bed coverings, carpeting and insulation from their wool. Or you can make parchment, shoes, clothing and furniture from their skin. Possible by-products from slaughtering sheep include medicine, cosmetics, lotion, soap, ink, candles, fuel, glue, lubricant, gelatin, sausage casings, surgical sutures, violin strings and tennis rackets.
- Ram's horns can also be made into bows, powder horns or musical horns.
- Sheep are also a common choice of animal in which to cultivate antibodies for antivenom.
- Sheep hearts, brains, eyes, and kidneys are staple subjects for introductory anatomy classes' dissections, as most resemble those of humans more closely in size and/or shape than the organs of other common livestock.
- Domesticated birds such as chickens and ducks offer up three valuable resources.
- A variety of meat products, ranging from the standard muscles to gizzards.
- Feathers for a variety of uses, such as stuffing pillows.
- Eggs which have a number of uses all on their own.
- As a direct food product that can be prepared in a number of ways.
- As a leavening agent in baked goods or a binding agent in ground meat dishes.
- Fertilized eggs are used to incubate viruses for certain vaccines.
- Linum usitatissimum, literally, "the most useful flax". Seeds: cure skin inflammation, soothe stomach ulcers, snack on them (on their own, or add them to bread), make oil for salads, moisturisers, hair conditioners, soaps, paint note and paint-like products, linoleum (it's in the name). Feed animals with the leftovers. Stems: aside from fashionable fabrics and yarns, you can use all the broken off bits for particle boards, paper or to stuff into holes in the walls. Also has pretty flowers for your garden (there are decorative varieties of flax, too).
- The genus Brassica and in particular the species Brassica oleracea is a weird spin on this. The single species B. oleracea, a hardy wild cabbage native to the hypersaline, chalky soils of coastal Western Europe, has been bred into over 20 cultivars with wildly varying purposes, including (of course) cabbage, kale (the form most similar to the wild type), cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, and gailan (a.k.a. Chinese broccoli). The weirdest variety is probably Jersey cabbage, which is a tree (they use the wood to make walking sticks). It gets stranger, however; B. oleracea readily hybridizes with its close relatives B. nigra (black mustard) and B. rapa (which produces both rapeseed for oil and turnips). This "Triangle of U"note gives us dozens of leafy greens, a few stem veggies, some more root vegetables, a couple of spices, and two or three oilseeds, plus some decorative plants (some varieties of kale and cabbage are more pretty than they are edible) and the aforementioned wood.