So, I've made... a lot of subterranean worlds. It's a favorite of mine. And, every single time, the major form of vegetation and light was blue, glowing mushrooms, and glowing crystals. While I think light sources are no struggle, I've had issues avoiding the ever-present trope of glowing blue mushrooms, lichens, mosses, etc. Definitely vibrant, preferably edible and/or useful for tools and buildings, but not necessary.

So, what vibrant vegetation would fit thematically aside from them?

  • $\begingroup$ actually you could realistically have a forest underground if say there was a really large crystal that acts like a sun. I think our present flora is quite vibrant already but you could make them maybe have crystal like leaves or whatever you want them to have $\endgroup$
    – Skye
    Aug 25, 2016 at 13:09

1 Answer 1



Molds are a classic thing that grow underground. According to this site

Molds need moisture that can come from water leaks, flooding, high relative humidity, or condensation. And, molds require oxygen, but not light. Without the proper conditions, molds may not grow but become dormant. Then when conditions are again right for growth, they begin to regenerate.


Oozes also don't need light to grow. (they're one of the quintessential D&D monsters). Examples are slimes, gelatinous cubes, and the ooze itself.


So too are fungi (mushrooms). Believe it or not there are vast networks of mushrooms underground that support life above the surface in the jungles. Without this under footing of mushrooms, many plants wouldn't be able to survive!

Moss, Ferns, etc.

According to this site, while not adapting to the dark per se, mosses, ferns and/or liverworts may be in the twilight zone, which are low-light areas where light decreases from the full intensity of the surface. Such organisms are adapted to the very low light regions where the twilight zone meets the darker areas of the cave and like the constantly cool, moist environment provided by the cave entrance.


Roots can grow into the cave. Even though they aren't a separate entity that exists from the plant above the surface, they are still something that grows into caves. Keep in mind that root structures weaken caves, and if there's sufficient weight above the surface, it'll cause it to collapse into the caves below.

  • $\begingroup$ Mold is fungi. And ooses are not classified as fungi would not be “vegitation” at all. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 24, 2016 at 2:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Papayaman1000 I think you might be suffering from a false equivalency. The reason the classical fantasy mushrooms, etc. look dull is because the light is low (or magical), and we'd be using more B&W vision rather than color vision. There are plenty of fungi that (in normal daylight) are bright orange, or white with red spots, etc. Even bread mold is blue/green. $\endgroup$
    – John Feltz
    Aug 25, 2016 at 0:51
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    $\begingroup$ @JesseCohoon Research on TV Tropes? You just recommend that so nonchalantly with no regards to my free time... Seriously, I spend a good couple hours a day on that site though :P $\endgroup$
    – JessLovely
    Aug 25, 2016 at 1:06
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    $\begingroup$ @JesseCohoon Good point. I had sort of wanted to avoid just miscellaneous surface vegetation, or some underground jungle, but 'tis not an original idea under the sun. Come to think of it, I've wasted away the past month playing Fallen London; maybe I could take cues from there ("Fallen" referring to its physical location, not in the 'given in to attack' sense used in the similarly-named film(s)). Seriously worth checking out, it's a free interactive story over here. Addendum: Perhaps we should move this to chat. $\endgroup$
    – JessLovely
    Aug 25, 2016 at 2:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Papayaman1000 plants and fungi are different things. Saying «plants/fungi» as a category doesn’t match modern classifications, as fungi are more closely related to animals than they are to plants, so you pretty much pull in the entirety of the main eucaryote liniage. The name “slime mold” is outdated, as noted in the intro of the Wikipedia article. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 25, 2016 at 2:51

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