One of the tools associated to ninjas were the makibishi, which were meant to be used as a tool of hindering and slowing down enemy pursuit while escaping.

Based on this concept of organic tools, is there any way for a hidden group of assassins to grow medieval/modern melee weapons (swords, axes etc) like plants, or at least weapons made of mostly organic materia (that is, requiring little to no handwork other than the assembly part)? The purpose of this would be to allow for them to be hopefully less dependent of smiths and to have more easily replaceable weapons and tools. If possible, limit this to technology that existed up to the end of the Renaissance period (modern techniques to treat wood using chemicals known at the time are also valid). Magic does not exist in this world.

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    $\begingroup$ Weapons made of wood and rope are pretty common. Pointed sticks. Quarterstaffs. Nunchakus. Slings. All Greek and Roman torsion artillery. Boomerangs. Since this can't be it, what is the question about? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Apr 8, 2020 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ Not to mention fresh fruit! $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Apr 8, 2020 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ My friend thinks he is smart, he said onion is the only fruit which makes you cry. I threw a coconut at his face. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Apr 8, 2020 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ As an evil master-of-assassins, I love this idea. Good guys will be defenseless for weeks waiting for their brittle, short-lived weapons to sprout and grow. My minions, of course, will be under no such limitations, and will spend the early growing season running amok pillaging the innocent villagers...and the later growing season burning their fields. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Apr 8, 2020 at 19:10
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    $\begingroup$ Make a dagger or axe out of lignum vitae, to paraphrase a favorite author, "you can laugh at the idea of a wooden edged weapon, until you see what they make trees out of around here." there are people that made carving knives out of the wood just to prove it can be done. interestingengineering.com/video/… $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 8, 2020 at 19:33

4 Answers 4


Yes, organic tools are completely probable.

A few things to consider, faster growing woods tend to be softer in general; possibly resulting in a more flexible or "weaker" wood. Hardwoods can be stronger than softwoods, but they take longer to grow and can be less flexible.

CAUTION Your assassins could be easily found out if they are the only ones growing a certain type of tree in the area...

There are other organic weapons besides wood from trees. Your assassins could grow poisons! Many beautiful flowers have varying amounts of toxicity, take Water Hemlock, Deadly Nightshade, and Rosary Peas for example.

CAUTION Anyone well versed in plants may connect the dots of the king's poisoning to the suspicious owners of the garden filled with toxic plants!

Cotton can also be a weapon! Your assassin's could weave cotton for rope, thread, clothing, etc. etc.

Bamboo may also work for you as an armor, or anything else you may think of.

FINAL CAUTION Your assassins would need to find a way to work with the seasons, rot, and pests that come along with gardening. During winter you couldn't grow more tools, armor, weapons, and whatever else your assassins need. Your assassins would need to work with the seasons even more than before...

Side note, your assassins could also breed animals. Leather and bone are very versatile materials.


Yes - although I'm not sure that it would have much military advantage over simply stashing weapon caches in conventional hiding places.

Spears, clubs and quarterstaffs would all be natural candidates as they don't require much preparation beyond sharpening or polishing. Pikes or axes wouldn't require much more work as they could easily be adapted to fit a metal head.

When it comes to the plant to be used, the faster growing the better. Bamboo would be ideal for anything that doesn't require much weight behind it. Thorns could also be useful as long as you can easily shave or sand them off the handle.

A more productive approach might be a combination of traps and thick growing vegetation to keep out potential intruders. Unpredictable pits in a thicket of sharpened bamboo would set up several punji-stick style traps. They wouldn't keep out a determined intruder, especially one who had firelighters, but would definitely slow up the unprepared or hasty.


Yes sort of.. though it would be a slow process. At FullGrown Farm in the UK designer Gavin Munro creates furniture by controlling the the growth of Willow saplings and takes about six years to create a chair.

Swords are unlikely being mostly metal, though growing a handle through an axe head would be doable.

Probably more likely for inspiration would be the range of stone age/ Polynesian war clubs,blowpipes, spears & shields. However wood also comes in some interesting types that are extremely hard most notably Lignum vitae, used for police truncheons/billy-club batons in the UK during the early 18/19th century and Olneya tesota aka Ironwood that's tough enough to make hooks for shark fishing.

Willow bark also makes good cordage so Nunchucks, Rice flails and Morningstar type weapons could be fashioned. That said by far the most dangerous weapons that could be found in such an assassins garden would be poisons. Alnwick castle in the UK for example is home to the "Poison Garden" where every plant inside the enclosure is considered highly dangerous, strychnine, hemlock, Ricin and much more.


Magic genetic engineering.

In Exalted, the race of magical dinosaur-people known as the Dragon Kings used magic to genetically engineer species of plants that replaced a significant portion of mundane technology; they had everything from vines that replaced mundane plumbing to trees that grew swords like fruit, to outright magical stuff like plant-based gas masks and scuba gear or plants that made magical healing powder.

It's possible that your ninjas might use their ninja magic to do something similar!


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