In my world, there is a bad 'disease' where spores of a plant enter the human body and start to grow with the human. it doesn't kill the human but its painful. the plant enters the ear and attaches itself to the ear canal. making the person go deaf in one ear. it will also go into the mouth and nose and will make the human have a permanently stuffy nose and aching jaw. in the stomach it will cause bloating and eventually diarrhea. so far there is no way to get rid of it.

is this believable?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Mold and other fungi aren't plants (though some are treated as such) but infections like you describe do happen to humans already. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 17:30

5 Answers 5


As @Pojo-guy already stated in his answer it's totally possible. But if I had understood your question, you are asking about a chronic disease.

That wouldn't be exactly possible. The inhaled spores will not stop growing until it ends killing the patient. So if not removed properly, the plant will end killing the patient, instead of co-existing with him, as I think you had planned.


Yes, this is absolutely believable. Check out http://awesci.com/plants-can-grow-within-human-bodies/

The link describes a case where a pea got lodged in a person's lung and sprouted, causing respiratory distress. It was discovered after several weeks in an exploratory surgery and quickly removed


Bloat (assuming you mean gastric dilation volvulus, or something similar to it) is deadly all on its own without immediate surgery. It certainly won't lead to "eventual diarrhea" if your creatures have a gastric tract similar to that of single-stomach Earth mammals.

In GDV, the stomach fills with gas and fluid (gastric dilation) and rotates along its long axis (volvulus) thus trapping the gas and fluid.

It would probably stretch suspension of disbelief a bit for me to picture a plant that will actually grow inside an animal, including a human, but if it is well established that in your world they can, then if not promptly removed they certainly could cause a variety of complications. The middle and inner ear in particular (more so than the outer ear) is made up of a large number of very delicate parts; dislodge or damage one of those, and you can indeed very easily cause partial or total loss of hearing in that ear. Assuming that the ear is similar to that of Earth humans, it also would likely cause difficulties with balance, as the organs associated with balance are part of the ear canal.

You'll have to come up with a plausible explanation why the plants can survive within the body but can't be removed, but given that they exist (which you'll need to establish within your story) and that they can't be removed, it doesn't seem unreasonable that they could cause at least some of the symptoms you describe.


Your plant grows on the human (or another animal's) body on a regular basis, so there could be three types of those plants:

1- A Parasitic plant: There are two types: The first type is the one which lacks chlorophyll. It must feed on the sugars to derive energy in the absence of chlorophyll for photosynthesis. Cuscuta is an example of a parasitic plant, which grows on other plants (happily, not on humans). Because the plant is fully parasitic, it can grow anywhere in the body, even inside our lungs, digestive tract (usually the bowel) or inside body cavities. However, body cavities are unlikely, because at some time the plant must release the spores to infect other hosts. You should place it in the lungs (excessive coughing spreads the spores), or inside the bowel, where it is excreted.

2- Semi-parasitic: Think of mistletoes, growing on trees. They can photosynthesize, but the seedlings invade the vascular bundles of tree trunks, instead of setting roots in the ground. Those semi-parasites still need light, and would likely grow on the skin.

3- Symbionts: Check this video depicting a speculative alien world known as Darwin IV. The large creature is known as a "groveback". As the name suggests, a grove of trees grow on its back. The trees set roots atop the giant tortoise-like creature. The groveback absorbs nutrients from the soil and passes it along to the plants. In exchange, they get sugars and nutrients. The plant you're describing may have evolved on an alien world, and it mistakes humans for its natural host, because of many biochemical similarities.

To make things interesting: fully-parasitic plants may be just as lethal as known parasites. They invade all tissues indiscriminately, wreaking havoc and eventual death. They take advantage of their host to grow and set seeds as much and as fast as they can, and then die with the host. Semi parasites and symbionts are more selective and will feed of their host without invading neighboring tissues, thus are able to live longer along with their host, and set seeds from year to year.


Sure they can yes.

Firstly this is how plants do it to plants:

Parasitic plant

They are attached to their host tree or shrub by a structure called the haustorium, through which they extract water and nutrients from the host plant.

They are extremley common:

They make up about 1% of angiosperms and are in almost every biome in the world.

Mistletoe is familiar I'm sure.

enter image description here Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License - Wikipedia 2018

What basic things do plants need?

The same as most other organisms:

  • Oxygen

  • Water

  • Minerals

  • Sugar

  • All of which are found in human blood.

It's no great reach to assume that sometime or another a plant would evolve to take advantage of the opportunity presented by all the animals around the place.

Dicrocheles phalaenodectes is a parasitic mite which infests the ear of certain species of noctuid moths.

However, the mites are careful to colonize only one ear, because if they were to colonize both ears, the moth would be fully deaf and would be unable to hear approaching bats. The bat would eat the mites along with the moth.

There must be some evolutionary advantage to the plant for it's host not being deaf in both ears.

  • Reproduction.

Maybe in the final stages of infection the host will come out in huge bubo-like swellings (as in bubonic plague) which eventually burst and release more spores.

enter image description here Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License - Wikipedia 2018


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