By packed solid, I mean it has very fast growing vines and bushes everywhere like on non-desert living land plus lead crud and hidden small holes so movement is severely restricted. Similar on swallow water areas. Vegetarian food is grown in tiny scattered bushes and the vines and lots of animals on the vines to kill hence no such thing as large scale food production (people probably have no concept of large scale food production). Cities are similarly restricted by having a dense population of people to constantly cut back these invasive vines. The question is how this version of Earth's people be like culturally?

The vines and bushes have some fire retardant properties otherwise natural processes (lightning initiated fires) would have removed them long ago. Also these vines etc. are not smothering types of plants- such plants would be eradicated. The vines are synergistic with your main food plants.

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    $\begingroup$ It would be possible to do large scale food production of some things... shellfish (look how mussels are grown commercially, for example), seaweed, possibly fish farming depending on resources and material availability. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ Humans have been trimming voracious vegetation into mere ornamentals for millennia, and eating those animals on the vines. You may find the history of saws a helpful quick read. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 12:05
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    $\begingroup$ This sounds like civilization in tropics. Look at Maya, or Khmer Empire. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 17:03

2 Answers 2


You have described Georgia.

kudzu http://kudzusolutions.web.unc.edu/about/

We live in that world. In land where there is enough water and gentle climate, vegetation can grow to make it impassable. The exception is forest, where the result of evolutionary competition has produced a race to the sun resulting in shade and the ability of humans to walk along.

You can find areas that look like this picture in the middle of cities in the South USA. Just leave things alone for a while.

I don't think your world would be problematic. If nothing else this copious biomass, harvested and dried, would provide a source of fuel. People would (and do) clear large swaths with fire - this is slash and burn agriculture, which is recite around the world. One could set domestic animals to eat the vines - goats work well and this is done in lots of places in the US. Kudzu is actually great animal fodder.

Imagining a vine 10 times faster than kudzu - you clear it and it is back that afternoon. You could cover the ground with rocks to prevent growth, or salt, or timbers, or sheeting. Prevent the vines from growing where you don't want. Or braid and train the existing vines into topiary that keeps itself out of your way.

Or better: set a thief to catch a thief. Humans will find plants that can compete with the vines (perhaps given some help) and use them to outcompete / shade out the vines.

You can read all you want about the battle between human and vine. Google kudzu. Similar battles are ongoing with English ivy and blackberry in other parts of the US.

  • $\begingroup$ The vines are food sources- people aren't going set goats or fire on their food sources so unlikely to be like Georgia or several other places- I got lost in overgrown forest. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 7:52
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    $\begingroup$ Note to European readers: that's Georgia-on-the-Atlantic (think Gone with the Wind), not Georgia-on-the-Black-Sea. It took me a moment to reconcile "Georgia" and "kudzu". $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 8:01
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    $\begingroup$ @user2617804 if the vines are that plentiful then only a portion of them are needed as food sources. You could keep 95% of them and burn back the other 5% around cities to keep them clear with ease. $\endgroup$
    – Sarriesfan
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 8:40
  • $\begingroup$ Doing a small burn is going to be hard- it is only flame retardant (fires are hard to start). A small fire is going to quickly get out of control. They also are good for your highly productive food plants- the vine are sparse but an easy food supply. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 13:20

Water World

Mankind would in all likelihood be aquatic nomads. Too much work on trying to keep sites clear to make land based villages really viable. Too much manpower used in clearing and not enough on food production.

Living on rafts and boats with food from gathering on land and fishing would be much more relaxed.

  • $\begingroup$ If the shallow water (like up to 50 metres deep) is like the land, then how is living on rafts any better. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 11:22
  • $\begingroup$ Nothing more than a deep mangrove. Plenty of fish living in there. Plenty of raft building materials right on your doorstep. Don't have to spend all day clearing vines. $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 12:20

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