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Triffid Edit

Triffids are from John Wyndham's "The Day of the Triffids."

{{Confuse|Trifid (disambiguation){{!}}Trifid}}

{{Redirect|Triffids|the Australian band|The Triffids}}

{{infobox fictional creature

|name = Triffid

|image = [[File:Triffidwynd.gif|250px|upright]]

|caption =  A triffid as illustrated by Wyndham

|classification = [[Carnivorous plant]]

|first = ''[[The Day of the Triffids]]'' <br>(1951 novel)

|last = ''[[The Day of the Triffids (2009 TV series)|The Day of the Triffids]]'' <br>(2009 TV series)

|created by = [[John Wyndham]]

|portrayed by = 


The '''triffid''' is a [[List of fictional plants|fictitious]], tall, mobile, prolific and highly [[venom]]ous plant species, the titular antagonist in [[John Wyndham]]'s 1951 novel ''[[The Day of the Triffids]]'' and [[Simon Clark (novelist)|Simon Clark]]'s 2001 sequel ''[[The Night of the Triffids]]''.  Triffids were also featured in the [[The Day of the Triffids (radio drama)| 1957 BBC radio dramatization]] of Wyndham's book, a considerably altered [[The Day of the Triffids (film)| 1962 film adaptation]], a more faithful [[The Day of the Triffids (1981 TV series)| 1981 television serial]] produced by the [[BBC]], and in a [[The Day of the Triffids (2009 TV series)|2009 two-part TV series]] also produced by the BBC. 

Since 1951, when ''The Day of the Triffids'' was first published, the word "triffid" has become a popular [[British English]] colloquial term for large, overgrown or menacing-looking plants.<ref>[ "The Return of the Triffids . . ." The John Wyndham Archive]</ref>

==Fictional history== Edit

===Origins=== Edit

The origin of the triffid species is never fully revealed in Wyndham's novel. The novel's central character, Bill Masen, dismisses the idea that they are a naturally occurring species, or that they are [[extraterrestrial life|extraterrestrial]] in origin:

{{quote|My own belief, for what that is worth, is that they were the outcome of a series of ingenious biological meddlings—and very likely accidental, at that. Had they been evolved anywhere but in the region they were, we should doubtless have had a well&#8209;documented ancestry for them.<ref name="day">Wyndham, "''The Day of the Triffids''", ch.2.</ref>}}

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The 1981 TV series and some editions of the book have Masen speculating that the triffids were the creation of the real-life [[Soviet Union|Soviet]] [[biologist]] [[Trofim Lysenko]]. According to Masen's narration, the triffids first came to the attention of the [[Western world]] when a man named Umberto Christoforo Palanguez presented the Arctic & European Fish Oil Company with a mysterious [[vegetable oil]] originating from [[Russian SFSR|Russia]]. Once the scientists of Arctic & European realised how potent the oil was, Palanguez' offer to smuggle some seeds of the plant out of Russia was accepted. Palanguez disappeared, but Masen guesses that his plane carrying the triffid seeds was shot down by the [[Red Air Force]], allowing the seeds to be carried all over the globe by wind.<ref name="day" />

===Name=== Edit

According to Wyndham's novel, the name Triffid alludes to the plant's three leg-like protusions and was originally "trifid",<ref name="Wyndham trifid">John Wyndham, The Day Of The Triffids, chapter 2</ref> Latin for "split into three parts".<ref name="MW trifid">[ Merriam-Webster:  trifid]</ref>

===Initial outbreaks and exploitation=== Edit


The first triffid outbreaks occur in [[Indochina]], where they receive little press attention, until triffids appear in [[Sumatra]], [[Borneo]], [[Belgian Congo]], [[Colombia]], [[Brazil]] and other equatorial regions. Although they develop faster in tropical zones, triffids soon establish themselves worldwide outside the [[Polar region|polar]] and [[desert]] regions. When it is discovered that triffids are predatory, they are almost exterminated until they are identified as the source of the valuable oil. Upon discovery that [[Docking (animal)|docking]] their stingers renders them harmless, docked triffids soon become fashionable in public and private gardens. As it takes triffids two years to fully regrow their stings, captive triffids are safe if pruned annually. Triffid farms are built to produce triffid oil, which is of greater quality when taken from undocked specimens.<ref name="day" />

===During and after the Great Blinding=== Edit

A Triffid105744 f8c65fdab0a2f46249d6

In Wyndhams novel the blindness is caused by a misfiring space-based weapon, the suggestion is the triffid's take advantage of this change in the power dynamic on earth and begin to attack. This was removed in the tv and film adaptations which changed the cause of the human blindness to a natural event. The novel is thus rendered apolitical for mainstream audiences, completely eviscerating its anti-war, specifically its anti super-weapon message, turning it into a mindless monster story.

After a large part of the Earth's human population is rendered blind by a brightly coloured [[comet]] shower, triffids escape confinement and kill large numbers of people. They soon overrun [[mainland Europe]] and the [[British Isles]], thus forcing the majority of survivors to escape to the [[Isle of Wight]] and other islands.

In [[Simon Clark (novelist)|Simon Clark]]'s 2001 book, ''The Night of the Triffids'', set 25 years after the events of Wyndham's original book, triffids in the British Isles are still valued as energy and food sources.<ref name="pod">Clark, "''The Night of the Triffids''", ch.3.</ref> Owing to an annual cull, Triffids remain absent on the Isle of Wight, until they are transported there by large floating mats of debris and vegetation. Triffids also become more aggressive, as a comet shower has blotted out the sun and thus necessitates them to increase their nutritional intake. In North America, standard triffids develop a form of echolocation,<ref name="echo" /> swamp-dwelling triffids become fully aquatic<ref name="swamp">Clark, "''The Night of the Triffids''", ch.31.</ref> and a small number of giant triffids attack [[New York]].<ref name="giant" /> Members of the [[Algonquin people|Algonquin]] tribe escape attack in their immunity to triffid venom.<ref>Clark, "''The Night of the Triffids''", ch.28.</ref> By the end of the sequel, it is revealed that owing to their constant exposure to small doses of triffid venom in their food, a quarter of the inhabitants of the Isle of Wight are also immune to triffid venom, thus encouraging them to return to the British mainland.<ref>Clark, "''The Night of the Triffids''", ch.45.</ref>

☀Continuity mistake: When the guy is in the mountains he burns some of the triffids at the fence and you can clearly see them frying, but when the camera pans across the garden later there are triffids but they are all fire-free and there are no bodies. Edit Continuity mistake: The geography of London is all wrong. When Howard Keel leaves the Eye Hospital (in Kings Cross) he turns a corner and ends up in Lincoln's Inn Fields (where he sees a dog being killed by a Triffid), he then exits the park and ends up in Victoria Train Station. All these locations are several miles apart.

== Characteristics ==

===Appearance and habits=== Edit

[[File:Booletriff.jpg|thumb|upright=1.0|A botanical drawing of a triffid by Bryan Poole for the ''Science Fiction Classics'' (1998)]]

According to the novel, the fictitious triffid can be divided into three components: base, trunk, and head (which contains a venomous sting). In ''The Day of the Triffids'', adult triffids are described as {{convert|7|ft|m}} in height. European triffids never exceed {{convert|8|ft|m}}, while those in tropical areas can reach {{convert|10|ft|m}}.<ref name="day" /> In ''The Night of the Triffids'', a small number of North American triffids reach {{convert|60|ft|m}} in height.<ref name="giant">Clark, "''The Night of the Triffids''", ch.41.</ref> 

The base of a triffid is a large muscle-like root mass, comprising three blunt appendages. When dormant, these appendages draw nutrients, as on a normal plant. When active, triffids use these appendages to propel themselves. The character Masen describes the triffid's locomotion as such:

{{quote|When it "walked" it moved rather like a man on crutches. Two of the blunt "legs" slid forward, then the whole thing lurched as the rear one drew almost level with them, then the two in front slid forward again. At each "step" the long stem whipped violently back and forth; it gave one a kind of seasick feeling to watch it. As a method of progress it looked both strenuous and clumsy—faintly reminiscent of young elephants at play. One felt that if it were to go on lurching for long in that fashion it would be bound to strip all its leaves if it did not actually break its stem. Nevertheless, ungainly though it looked, it was contriving to cover the ground at something like an average walking pace.<ref name="day"/>}}

Above the base are upturned leafless sticks which the triffid drums against its stem. The exact purpose of this is not fully explained in ''The Day of the Triffids''; it is originally assumed that they are used to attract mates, but Bill Masen's colleague, Walter Lucknor, believes that they are employed for communication. It is revealed that removal of these sticks causes the triffid to physically deteriorate.<ref name="day" /> In ''The Night of the Triffids'', the character Gabriel Deeds speculates that the vibrations made by the triffid's sticks serve as a form of [[acoustic location|echolocation]].<ref name="echo">Clark, "''The Night of the Triffids''", ch.26.</ref>

The upper part of a triffid consists of a stem ending in a funnel-like formation containing a sticky substance which traps insects, much like a [[pitcher plant]]. Also housed within the funnel is a stinger which, when fully extended, can measure {{convert|10|ft|m}} in length. When attacking, a triffid will lash the sting at its target, primarily aiming for its prey's face or head, with considerable speed and force. Contact with bare skin can kill a person instantly. Once its prey has been stung and killed, a triffid will root itself beside the body and feed on it as it decomposes.<ref name="day" />

Triffids reproduce by inflating a dark green pod below the top of the funnel until it bursts, releasing white seeds (95% of which are infertile) into the air.<ref name="day" />

Aquatic triffids appear in ''The Night of the Triffids''; but remain largely unseen, with the exceptions of their stingers: the latter described as [[prehensile]].<ref name="swamp" />

===Intelligence=== Edit

A recurring theme in ''The Day of the Triffids'' is whether or not triffids are intelligent or merely acting on set instincts. The character Walter Lucknor states that although triffids lack a [[central nervous system]], they nonetheless display what he considers intelligence:

{{quote|And there's certainly intelligence there, of a kind. Have you noticed that when they attack they always go for the unprotected parts? Almost always the head—but sometimes the hands. And another thing: if you look at the statistics of casualties, just take notice of the proportion that has been stung across the eyes and blinded. It's remarkable—and significant.<ref name="day"/>}}

Later, after the Great Blinding, the triffids herd blind people into cramped spaces to kill more easily,<ref>Wyndham, "''The Day of the Triffids''", ch.5.</ref> or root themselves beside houses, waiting for the occupants.<ref>Wyndham, "''The Day of the Triffids''", ch.11.</ref>

[[File:JohnWyndham_TheDayOfTheTriffids.jpg|thumb|upright=1.0|Front cover art for the book ''The Day of the Triffids'']][[File:Dayofthetriffids.jpg|thumb|upright=1.0|A triffid, as displayed on a promotional poster of [[Steve Sekely]]'s 1962 [[The Day of the Triffids (film)|film adaptation]] of Wyndham's novel]]

[[File:Triffid sign kloof sa.jpg|thumb|upright=1.0|A sign in [[Kloof]] encouraging the elimination of the ''[[Chromolaena odorata]]'' weed]]

==Appearances== Edit

220px-Triffid sign kloof sa

Triffids were illustrated on the front cover of the first edition of ''The Day of the Triffids''. 

The triffids made their first screen appearance in [[Steve Sekely]]'s 1962 [[The Day of the Triffids (film)|film adaptation]]. The triffids are portrayed as extraterrestrial lifeforms transported to Earth by comets. This is directly contradictory of the literary source, in which Bill Masen states: 

{{quote|In the books there is quite a lot of loose speculation on the sudden occurrence of the triffids. Most of it is nonsense. Certainly they were not spontaneously generated, as many simple souls believed. Nor did most people endorse the theory that they were a kind of sample visitation—harbingers of worse to come if the world did not mend its ways and behave its troublesome self. Nor did their seeds float to us through space as specimens of the horrid forms life might assume upon other, less favoured worlds—at least I am satisfied that they did not.<ref name="day"/>}}

This is later reinforced in ''The Night of the Triffids'', in which a young David Masen replies negatively to his teacher's question as to whether or not triffids are extraterrestrial.<ref name="pod" />

The 1962 film triffids (now given the [[binomial name]] ''Triffidus celestus'') also differ physically: the film triffids were designed with flaying tentacles below their stems, which they use as slashing weapons and to drag their dead prey. Also, their stinger is shown as a gas propelled projectile, rather than a coiled tendril. Finally, the film triffids are vulnerable to [[sea water]].

Triffids later appeared in the [[The Day of the Triffids (1981 TV series)|1981 BBC serial]], in which they are portrayed accurately to the book. Designed by [[Steve Drewett]],<ref>[ In the Kingdom of the Blind BBC's The Day of the Triffids]</ref> the triffids were operated by a man crouched inside, cooled by a fan installed in its neck; the 'clackers' were radio controlled. The gnarled bole, based on the ginseng root, was made of latex with a covering of sawdust and string while the neck was fibreglass and continued to the floor, where it joined with the operator's seat. The plants were surmounted by a flexible rubber head, coated with clear gunge. After the end of the production, one was displayed for a time in the Natural History Museum in London, where Drewett had once been employed.  Some inferior copies of the props were later used in a cocktail party sketch in an episode of ''[[Alexei Sayle's Stuff]]''.

St. Merryn’s Hospital is alluded to and a triffid makes an appearance in one panel of [[The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier ]](2007 Graphic Novel), written by [[Alan Moore]] and drawn by [[Kevin O'Neill (comics)|Kevin O'Neill]].

In the [[The Day of the Triffids (2009 TV series)|2009 two-part TV series]], the triffids are portrayed as a naturally occurring species from [[Zaire]], discovered by the West and selectively bred as an alternative to fossil fuels to avert [[global warming]]. Rather than walking on three blunt stumps, the triffids drag themselves with prehensile roots which also constrict prey. Their stalk is surrounded by large [[agave]]-like leaves, and they secrete their oil (green rather than the novel's pink) from their surfaces. Their stingers, which in previous film adaptations could not penetrate glass, are powerful enough to shatter windows, true to the original triffids of the novel. Instead of a cup they have a pink flower-like head, resembling a cross between a [[lily]] and a sweet pea, that enlarges before releasing the sting.

In the video game [[Final Fantasy XIII]], the player encounters enemies called triffids upon reaching Gran Pulse and, not surprisingly, they look and act as hostile plants.

==Other uses of the term== Edit

''[[Chromolaena odorata]]'' is known as a "triffid" throughout the [[Durban]] area of South Africa. However, they pose no threat to humans unless ingested, as they are [[carcinogenic]].

==See also== Edit

* ''[[The Day of the Triffids]],'' the 1951 novel by [[John Wyndham]]

* ''[[The Day of the Triffids (film)|The Day of the Triffids]]'' the 1962 film adaptation

* [[The Day of the Triffids (radio)|''The Day of the Triffids'' (radio)]], a BBC radio dramatization

* [[The Day of the Triffids (1981 TV series)|''The Day of the Triffids'' (1981 TV series)]]

* ''[[The Night of the Triffids]],'' a 2001 sequel to Wyndham's book by [[Simon Clark (novelist)|Simon Clark]]

* [[The Day of the Triffids (2009 TV series)|''The Day of the Triffids'' (2009 TV series)]]

For Wyndham's explanation of the true origin of the triffids, see David Ketterer, "John Wyndham's World War III  and His Abandoned *Fury of Creation* Trilogy" in *Future Wars: The Anticipations and the Fears*, ed, David Seed (Liverpool University Press, 2012), 103-29.

==References== Edit



==External links== Edit

* The BBC's [ Triffid Home page]

*[ Reader's Guide to The Day of the Triffids]

[[Category:Fictional plants]]

[[Category:Fictional mutants]]

[[Category:Fictional species and races]]

[[Category:Literary villains]]


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