50 Shades of Green: Sex With Plants

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#ILLUSTRATI n.53 – L’uomo che piantava gli alberi

When I was still attending the film school, I wrote a brief script for a short film about a man who bought a flower, a big orchid. He went home, put the orchid on his bed, caressed it, kissed it and, finally, made love with it.
The subject appeared quite comical but my intention was to make a sort of test or, even better, an exercise in style: would I be able to shoot such an absurd sex scene without making it ridiculous? Would I be able to make it even romantic? Was it possible to produce the well-known “suspension of disbelief” in the audience in such an extreme situation?
At that time, I didn’t know that I wasn’t being particularly original.

There is, in fact, a real rare paraphilia, or better a form of fetishism, consisting in deriving sexual arousal from trees and plants. The term defining it is ‘dendrophilia’ and may have been coined by Lawrence Buell when referring to the famous writer Henry David Thoreau’s love of trees – a totally innocent feeling in that case.
Like other paraphilias, dendrophilia is one of those topics that can be the delight of tabloids: when the editorial staff runs out of news, they can simply send a photographer in the courtyard, to take some shots of a lady kissing a tree, and the article is done: “I want to marry a poplar!”.
But does dendrophilia really exist?

© Closer Magazine

A seminal 2007 study from Bologna University estimated that only 5% of all fetishisms refers to inanimate objects that have no relationship with the human body. Within such a low rate, it is no wonder that the more exclusive niche of people with a thing for plants can be almost invisible; this is compounded by the shame of talking about it and by the fact that this sexual preference does not cause any problem; so, you will understand why there is no record of case studies dedicated to dendrophilia in medical literature.

Assuming this sort of paraphilia exists, we can reasonably infer from what we know about the other forms of fetishism, that its manifestations could be much less weird than we expect. Most of the appeal of the fetish relies on the smell, the texture, and the appearance of the object, which becomes important on an evocative level in order to stimulate arousal. In this respect, it is likely that the potential dendrophile simply finds the texture of a bark, the smoothness or the colour of the leaves, the shape of a root extremely pleasant; contact, sometimes associated with a sexually relevant distant memory, becomes effective in stimulating arousal.

Not really different from those people who derive arousal from velvet: we tend to define fetishism on a pathological level only when it becomes a sine qua non in order to get sexual gratification and, actually, many practitioners working in the field tend to make distinctions between optional, preferred and exclusive paraphilias. Only the last ones are considered sexual disorders; this distinction, which can be found in the DSM-5 as well (the most used diagnostic manual in psychiatry), is in fact the distinction between real fetishism and fetishistic behaviour.

Last June, a little scandal broke in Palermo: among the plants of the amazing Botanical Gardens popped up a video installation by the Chinese artist Zheng Bo named Pteridophilia (literally, “love of ferns”). The video shows seven young boys having sex with plants in a Taiwan forest.

Having considered the ruckus raised by this artistic video, maybe it’s a good thing that I never realized my short film. Which, with a little plot twist, ended up playing with the subtle distinction between pathological fetishism and a simple fetishistic act “by proxy”: after making love with the orchid, the main character went to gently put it on the grave of the only woman he had ever loved.

11 comments to 50 Shades of Green: Sex With Plants

  1. Pina Fantozzi says:

    Il famoso “Largo” di Händel, spesso utilizzato, in versione strumentale, in ambito religioso, in realtà descrive una situazione del genere: è l’arioso iniziale dell’opera Serse, in cui il protagonista si dichiara innamorato del suo platano:

    Frondi tenere e belle
    del mio platano amato
    per voi risplenda il fato.
    Tuoni, lampi, e procelle
    non v’oltraggino mai la cara pace,
    né giunga a profanarvi austro rapace.

    Ombra mai fu
    di vegetabile,
    cara ed amabile,
    soave più.

    • bizzarrobazar says:

      Questo suona comunque abbastanza innocente. Un po’ come il brano Auprès de mon arbre di Brassens. 🙂

      • Pina Fantozzi says:

        Il testo del libretto di Stampiglia sì, diciamo che potrebbe trattarsi di una “normale” espressione di affetto verso una pianta a cui si è legati per qualche motivo… Ma in realtà l’epidodio è tratto da Erodoto, che descrive una situazione se non, diciamo così, equivoca, per lo meno di certo bizzarra: Serse, diretto a Sardi, in Lidia, si imbatte in un platano di bellissimo aspetto; lo fa quindi coprire di gioielli d’oro e lascia uno dei suoi Immortali in sua difesa.
        È curioso che questo piccolo episodio, che oltretutto non ha nessuna attinenza con le vicende narrate In seguito, sia divenuto l’incipit dell’opera, evidentemente aveva colpito in modo particolare la fantasia del librettista.
        Ricordo anche un mito relativo a Dioniso in cui il dio faceva sesso con una pianta di vite dopo averne opportunamente sagomato il tronco, tanto per fare un esempio più esplicito…

  2. Livio says:

    E anche questa mi mancava… Grande!

  3. Gery says:

    In quanto amante di 12 Phalaenopsis ibride (e una Miltassia), 5 Carnivore e una Azalea Indica, non posso che approvare :P!

  4. Livio says:

    Mia moglie ha una vera passione per le piante in terrazzo… Comincio ad avere dei sospetti!

  5. Antonello says:

    Forse non è pertinentissimo, ma a me fa venire in mente una certa scena del casto cortometraggio *Hermitage*, di e con Carmelo Bene, 1968.

  6. Ale88 says:

    Un amico, che faceva il fiorista, qualche anno fa mi aveva chiesto se avevo mai fatto caso alle orchidee. ” Quando sono rosa, aperte, con il bordino dei petali interni più rosso, mi ricordano una vagina….”Tempo dopo mi aveva detto che era ossessionato dalle orchidee ed era arrivato a masturbarsi guardandole,a leccare il fiore, e altri particolari. Poi era stato in cura da uno psichiatra per questo. Non ho poi saputo più nulla di lui e di come sia finita.

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