The triffid is a highly venomous fictional plant species, the titular antagonist from the 1951 novel "
The Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndhamand also later appears in Simon Clark's novel " The Night of the Triffids".
Triffids were also featured in the 1957 BBC radio dramatization of Wyndham's book, in a considerably altered film which was produced in 1962, and in a more faithful television serial which was produced by the
The name may be related to the
Trifid Nebula, a region of star formation originally named by John Herschelbecause it appeared to have three components, resembling a three-lobed flower in photographs taken in visible light.
Wyndham hints at but never fully reveals the origin of his triffid species. Twenty or more years prior to the events of "
The Day of the Triffids", the original "gossamer-slung" triffid seeds, stolen from a Sovietresearch facility, were dispersed worldwide after the aircraft they were packed in was destroyed at high-altitude during the Cold War.
narratorspeculates that the triffids may have been a bioengineered hybrid species; created using material from several other plants, by the real-life Soviet biologist Trofim Lysenko. This comparison is fueled by Wyndham describing the triffids by breaking them down into their components parts, and comparing these parts to existing plants. The narrator quickly dismisses the idea that triffids are a naturally occurring species, or that they are aliens.
In the 1962 film adaptation, the triffids were a form of extraterrestrial plant life whose seeds were spread across the globe during a shower.
According to the novel, the fictitious triffid can be divided into three components: base, trunk, and head (which contains a venomous sting).
The base of a triffid is a large muscle-like root mass comprising many thick tentacles. When dormant/docile, these tentacles are rooted into the ground and are used to draw nutrients, as with a normal plant. When active, triffids use these tentacles to propel themselves along at a moderate walking pace. They are capable of moving faster over open ground. Triffids' roots/tentacles are sufficiently articulate to allow them to climb stairs, and strong enough to allow them to push through fencing. They are not, however,
prehensileenough to allow them to use tools.
The trunk of a triffid is several inches thick and resembles a sprouting leek. It is thickest close to the head and the base, and tapers off in the middle. A triffid's neck can range from a few feet in height to around two metres. It has leaf-like foliage where it meets the base of the triffid.
The upper part of a triffid can be referred to as the head, although it does not contain the usual sensory organs associated with an animal's head. It consists of a brightly colored, hollow, flower like aperture that resembles the top of a "
Heliamphora" or " Darlingtonia californica". The head houses a triffid's sting. The flower also contains a mucilagetype liquid which is seen ensnaring insects, although other purposes are unknown.
A triffid's sting is a flat
paddle-like appendage on a flexible stalk that protrudes from the head of a triffid like a stamenor tongue. When attacking, a triffid will lash out at its target using its sting, primarily aiming for its prey's face or head, and with considerable speed and force. The sting leaves behind a distinctive rectangular welt with linear cuts running along it. Often traces of dark green triffid venom are visible in the wound.
Triffid venom is fast-acting and can fell a victim almost instantly. In the 1962 version, poison was ejected in a gas-like spray from the head of the triffid.
In the wild, triffids move slowly and apparently at random. They emit a slow, hollow low-pitched clicking sound -- in the TV series this is shown to be achieved by beating their bole-like lower section with special 'sticks'; protuberances seemingly there for this purpose. Their 'calls' can carry for a considerable distance. Triffids remain docile until they sense the presence of potential prey. At this point, a triffid's call will become faster and louder and it will home in on its prey through the path of least resistance until it becomes close enough to attack using its sting. Wild triffids may also wait for prey and ambush them.
Typically, triffids will push against any barrier between them and their prey. A lone triffid will have little impact on most barriers, but a large herd can bring down even a strong fence. Once its prey has been stung and killed, a triffid will approach and wait to one side with its roots in the earth until the body begins to decay. When the flesh has partially decayed, the sting will pull flesh from the body and lift it to the head in order to feed. It is necessary to wait for decay, as the flesh on a freshly killed body is too tough for the sting to pull apart.
A triffid hearing the rapid call of another triffid will become more active, and will follow the sound. This can result in a lone triffid, or a small group, quickly becoming a large threatening herd.
Evolution of the triffid threat
Soon after the discovery of the first triffid seeds, the story's scientists learned that their bodies were a potentially lucrative source of protein and natural oils.Despite their dangerous nature, it was determined that the value of a triffid outweighed the risks, and people began to cultivate them as a commercial crop. This resulted in triffid seeds being spread all over the world in a comparatively short space of time: within 20 years, triffids were a common crop in numerous countries.
Though triffids kept by private breeders and collectors had their stings docked for safety reasons, most commercially grown triffids were left with their stings attached, as docking was found to reduce the quality of the oil that they produced.
This situation persisted for many years, until a burst of light, initially thought to be from a
comet, but later speculated to be a high-altitude weapons discharge, blinded much of the human race.
Without sighted keepers to maintain their fences and to check the tethers that kept them in place, small groups of triffids began escaping from their farms and established wild populations. Urban triffids, with nobody to prevent their stings from regrowing, soon joined them.
Although slow moving and lacking in intelligence, newly freed triffids found blind humans to be easy targets and began to attack them.
As starvation, disease, accidents, and infighting further reduce human numbers, the increasingly bold and numerous triffids begin to take over, forcing humans out of the cities and into isolated hamlets and fortified farms in the countryside.
In the 1962 film adaptation, the triffids were initially docile and easy to round up and farm, as in Wyndham's original vision. However, they became more active and aggressive when Earth once again passed through the debris belt that seeded them in this continuity (See Origins). This event also resulted in the blindness of those who witnessed it, and the rise of the triffids as the dominant life form in many areas.
Although hinted at, Wyndham never clarified whether triffids were intelligent or whether they were acting on basic pre-programmed instincts.
It is known that they possessed sufficient inherent survival instinct to be repelled from an electric fence belonging to a group of surviving humans. They also appeared to be intelligent enough to learn that, if they could not hear the sound of a generator powering the fence, it meant that the
It was also unclear whether the triffids from the 1962 and 1981 productions were intelligent, though similar hints were laid that they possessed at least rudimentary intelligence.
Triffids are plant-based and their vital functions rely on distributed systems instead of distinct internal organs. This makes them difficult to kill using
firearmsand allows them to absorb considerable blunt force damage to their body section without being impaired. Triffids are also capable of limited bodily regeneration, and can regrow their sting if it is damaged or destroyed.
The most effective way to stop or disable a triffid is to sever its trunk or otherwise destroy its head. This will render it unable to locate prey, or to attack with its stinger.
In the 1962 film adaptation, it was discovered that triffids could be destroyed using salt water. A triffid doused in salt water dissolved in under a minute, leaving only an organic residue behind.
Like all plant life, triffids are vulnerable to fire. Once a triffid is set ablaze, it is unable to put the fire out itself. However, it may take several minutes for a triffid to succumb, during which time the triffid still presents a threat to those around it.
The Day of the Triffids", a book by John Wyndham(1951)
* "The Day of the Triffids", a BBC radio dramatization of Wyndham's book (1957)
* "The Day of the Triffids", a film adaptation of Wyndham's book (1962)
* "The Day of the Triffids", a
BBCserialization of Wyndham's book (1981)
The Night of the Triffids", a sequel to Wyndham's book by Simon Clark(2001)
*"", where Triffids also appear
*Darwinia, a computer game which features an enemy named for the Triffid
*"Sunshine", a novel by
Robin McKinley, mentions Triffids in passing
* The BBC's [http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/classic/triffids/index.shtml Triffid Home page]
* [http://triffids.wuthering-heights.co.uk/ Reader's Guide to The Day of the Triffids]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
triffid — /trifˈid/ noun A monstrous (fictional) stinging plant, mobile and rapidly multiplying, of invasive habit and malign intent ORIGIN: From John Wyndham s science fiction novel The Day of the Triffids (1951) • • • triffidˈian or triffˈidy adjective… … Useful english dictionary
triffid — noun A fictional plant, able to move around and kill people with a poisonous stinger But this should not lead to complete avoidance, as if it is like some dire incursion of triffids or ents … Wiktionary
triffid — noun (in science fiction) a large predatory plant which is able to move about and has a poisonous sting. Origin coined by John Wyndham in Day of the Triffids (1951) … English new terms dictionary
triffid — noun (C) an imaginary plant that grows very large, moves about, and attacks people … Longman dictionary of contemporary English
triffid — Noun. Any large or sprawling plant, usually a house plant. From The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham … English slang and colloquialisms
triffidian — triffidˈian or triffˈidy adjective In the nature of or reminiscent of a triffid or triffids • • • Main Entry: ↑triffid … Useful english dictionary
triffidy — triffidˈian or triffˈidy adjective In the nature of or reminiscent of a triffid or triffids • • • Main Entry: ↑triffid … Useful english dictionary
Dynamic global vegetation model — A dynamic global vegetation model (DGVM) is a computer program that simulates shifts in potential vegetation and its associated biogeochemical and hydrological cycles as a response to shifts in climate. DGVMs use time series of climate data and,… … Wikipedia
The Day of the Triffids (1962 film) — Infobox Film name = The Day of the Triffids caption = film poster by Reynold Brown director = Steve Sekely producer = George Pitcher Philip Yordan writer = Bernard Gordon Philip Yordan starring = Howard Keel Kieron Moore Janette Scott Nicole… … Wikipedia
The Day of the Triffids (TV series) — Infobox Television show name = The Day of the Triffids caption = The Day of the Triffids genre = TV drama picture format = (4x3) runtime = starring = John Duttine (Bill Masen), Emma Relph (Josella Payton), Maurice Colbourne (Jack Coker), Stephen… … Wikipedia