Welcome to ISC HiFi. Explore new records daily from our growing collection of classics and rarities from around the world. Discover the stories behind the records.

“To hear more, say less.”

Our website uses cookies
Read our privacy policy.

I Agree

The Plants Behind Your Favorite Albums

Written By: 
Tana Yonas
Tags: 
Share:
  •  

Next up in our Art & Design: In Focus series, Tana Yonas takes a look into the plants behind your favorite album covers.

There is something endlessly fascinating about caring for a humble plant. Whether you’ve grown them from seed or picked one up that’s established and thriving, the magic of watching them grow and serenely move to catch the sun delivers sublime comfort. This sentiment is shared with many musicians. Innumerable tracks and records have been dedicated to the mostly peaceful plant kingdom (lest we forget the murderous venus flytrap and vacation-destroying poison oak). 

What plants are on the cover of your favorite records? Below, we explore a few ISC favorites, identify the plants and illuminate their ways.


Mort Garson: Mother Earth's Plantasia – Sacred Bones Records

Mort Garson ‎– Mother Earth’s Plantasia (1976)

We would be remiss if we didn’t open with perhaps the most famous record about plants, Mort Garson’s Mother Earth’s Plantasia. This one took a while to figure out, and was finally found on a Plantasia promotional poster illustrated by Marvin Rubin, the mastermind of the album art. It’s titled The Original 15 Hassle-Free Plants, and features a peacefully reclining character surrounded by a host of plants and their names. Many are uncommon, and one, the dieffenbachia, looks identical to the towering plant that almost envelops the two people on the album cover holding each other in sonic ecstasy. A little more research revealed this species of dieffenbachia’s exact name to be “Tropical Snow.” The common name comes from its appearance in the tropical forests it comes from, and it looks like its leaves are blanketed in snow.

Dieffenbachia Seguine Tropic Snow | Indoor Plants in London | Indoor Plants  in London | Patch
“Tropical Snow” Dieffenbachia

“Tropical Snow” dieffenbachias are hearty plants native to the Central and South America’s tropics. Its huge variegated leaves can grow upwards of ten feet. Variegation is plant nerd speak for streaks different from the main color of a leaf, and this could be an irregular or regular pattern.

“Tropical Snow” only needs water once a week and is easy to take care of, so they’re almost an ideal beginner plant. They are sensitive to a draft, though that’s forgivable. One warning: This plant is not pet or child friendly. If the water that pools at the plant’s base is ingested, it can temporarily inhibit speech, hence the name. If that’s not a worry, the sublime feeling of setting one in your home next to your copy of Mother Earth’s Plantasia is highly recommended. 

Green-House ‎– Six Songs for Invisible Gardens (2020)

This recent release from Green-House is a contemplative dedication to photosynthetic friends. Olive Ardizoni performs and produces this work with the production and instrumental support of Michael Flanagan. Entrancing arpeggiations float between the conscious, liminal and subconscious space. Warm drones fill the room like sun rays. With song titles using names of unique varieties such as  “Parlor Palm” and “Peperomia Seedling,” that this record would have a cover with a more esoteric plant isn’t surprising. For situations like this, you roll up your sleeves and look for an app to solve your problems. Yes, they exist, and after taking a digital sample from the cover, the app concluded it was a Lanceleaf Tickseed.  

Tickseed/Lance-leaved Coreopsis
Lanceleaf Tickseed

It’s easy enough to gather where this outdoor plant gets the first part of its name, with its lance-like leaf structure. Most are planted on borders and meadow margins, this extremely easy-to-own plant is native to the United States and is common in urban areas. It blossoms in summer and attracts both birds and bees so you really can’t lose with this one. It looks like a cheerful plant, and that’s the feeling you get when bathing in the musicality of this brilliant record.

Hiroshi Yoshimura ‎– Green (1986)

Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Green is perhaps the most honest plant dedication on this list and stays true to the trend of solo plant loving composers and their synths. Every song on this record brings you close to a feeling of synesthesia with songs that are organic and full of life, offering a glimpse into what it might feel like to live the life of a plant. The first song “Creek” sounds like a plant in mid-day turning the sun’s nutrient dense wavelengths of white light into life giving chlorophyll while the second song “Feel” could be the musical representation of a plant feeling the first rays of sun in the morning.

Crab / Christmas Cactus

Okay, now to explore the plant on the cover. This oddly shaped plant is just as curious looking in real life as it is on the cover of Green. This plant has two popular common names, the crab cactus and the Christmas cactus. It’s also the easiest plant on this list to take care of. It needs water once every two to three weeks, and staying true to most cacti, it generally needs only a little water. Keep watering regularly and you’ll get beautiful white blossoms in spring!

Stevie Wonder Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants 2LP

Stevie Wonder ‎– Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants (1979)

Stevie Wonder also got in on writing experimental odes to plants on his record Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants. This 20-track record was a soundtrack to a film adapted from the widely popular book The Secret Life Of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. The record is a beautiful oddity unlike anything Wonder has ever composed. To suit each mood, he sampled field recordings of birds, gently nuanced melodies, and adapted traditional instruments from across the world — and fused it with electronic synthesis to suit each mood. The album cover is a rather simple line drawing, though it obviously depicts the tropical hibiscus. After scrolling images once again, this time looking for two layers of petals like in the photo, there was one that closely resembled the drawing. After going through more pictures of familiar photos to find one with a species name, it was finally found, and its common name is Hibiscus China Belle. 

Summer-Blooming Hibiscus Has Enormous, Vibrant Blossoms | Southern Living
Hibiscus China Belle

China Belles are from Asia’s tropics and have brilliant vermillion-red petals. They thrive outdoor under direct sunlight, prefer humid regions and require short periods of dry soil — but holistically they need a lot of water. Its sibling hibiscus sabdariffa is delicious as Jamaica tea. It’s worth mentioning that there are some toxic varieties, so it might be risky if you have pets. If you get one, Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants is the perfect record to play while you’re doing your weekly watering.

Roger Roger – De La Musique Et Des Secrets Pour Enchanter Vos Plantes (1978)

Even before technoliteracy was the norm, ideas traveled globally quickly. Roger Roger was well known in Europe for his BBC show and odd space-age compositions. Like Garson, he preferred to compose music alone. He was no doubt inspired by Plantasia, though Roger Roger’s approach is as sparse as Garon’s is lush. The album title translates to “Music and Secrets to Enchant Your Plants,”  and was also an album created to soothe plants in the listener’s home. It is synthesized perfection and almost a digital lullaby; delightfully exciting trills contrast the willful exuberance of Plantasia.

Identifying this plant was more straightforward because the species on the cover is well known. Calathea plants are easy to spot: the stems are almost always similar, though the leaves can vary wildly. This is one of the funnest plants to own since most in this family have dynamic leaves that move all day. It looks like it’s dancing. After sifting through some photos, calathea “white fusion” exactly matched the illustration of the album cover, both the leaf color and irregular variegation . 

“Fusion White” Calathea

Like most Calathea, the “Fusion White” does not like its soil to dry out. The top one inch of soil should stay moist, which equates to watering once a week. If you keep this guy in its garden pot, you can “bottom water” for 15 minutes a week to make it even happier. It gets up to two feet tall, and if you have a cat or dog you’ll be happy to hear it’s pet friendly.

Peter Tosh ‎– Legalize It (1976)

Okay, yes, you probably know this indoor/outdoor plant, though it’s worth mentioning for it’s impact on music culture globally. Peter Tosh was a founding member of the Wailers with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, and left the group as they became famous to focus on his solo work. A Rastafarian, Tosh used ganja buds as a ritualistic tool to channel inspiration and, like many artists, to ease into a creative headspace. This infamous plant on the cover is called cannabis. We can assume that the field Tosh is in is a sativa varietal, since it’s taller than the other popular cannabis family, Indica.

How to identify indica and sativa plants | Weedmaps
Cannabis Sativa

Sativas come from Central and South America. The strain of cannabis is typically distinguished by its long, thin leaves, airy flower buds and tall stature. This plant is not pet or child friendly because of its famously psychoactive components. In the U.S., it’s been legal for personal use in Alaska since 1975 and has been recently decriminalized in many states, though it’s still very illegal on a federal level. It prefers to be outside, though many go through some extreme means to grow it indoors. It’s water-intensive and a cousin of another plant that’s prized for its aromatic flowering buds, the hops plant.

Joël Fajerman ‎– La Aventura De Las Plantas (1982)

Another soundtrack, this time to a French documentary series. This record by Joël Fajerman is the perfect connector to Garson’s and Roger Rogers’ Albums. Fajerman is of the same mold, a lone composer creating landscapes of techno-naturalistic multitudes using a massive Moog modular synthesiser. La Aventura De Las Plantas starts with “Flowers of Love,” a dramatic and moody tribute to Mother Earth. It was used in the series’ first commercial, a cartoonish animation of a man in a barren, depressed landscape suddenly overwhelmed by the sudden growth of a giant plant. The series is partly animated, and offers beautiful live shots similar to what you would see on Planet Earth. The plant on the cover is pretty straightforward to identify: it’s a beautiful botanical drawing of the common orange.

Tips for healthy citrus trees - The San Diego Union-Tribune

The origins of oranges, along with most citrus, is the Malay Archipelago in Asia. The orange was popularly cultivated worldwide, most famously in Spain and on both sides of the United States’ southern coasts. One of the few plants that fruit in winter, they’re at their sweetest after a short freeze. Its blossoms imbue the air around it with the most delightfully sweet and captivating fragrance. A walk through a flowering orange orchard should be on every bucket list — and it would be taken to a whole new level if accompanied by this record.

Related Articles

Sort By
12th Isle
2020
33rpm
45rpm
4AD
5 Selects
7"
99 Records
A&M
Abbey Lincoln
Aboriginal
Abstract
Ace Tone
Acid Archives
Acid Folk
Acid House
Acid Punk
Acoustic
Adrian Sherwood
Africa
African
Afro
Afro-Cuban
Afrobeat
Alan Ginsberg
Alan Greenberg
Alan Thicke
Albert Ayler
Alice Coltrane
Altec
Amazon Music
Ambient
Amoeba Music
Amplifier
Analog
Anatolian Rock
Andy Warhol
Animation
AOR
Aquarium Drunkard
Archie Shepp
Archival
Art
Art & Design
Art Dudley
Art Film
Art Pop
Art Rock
Artform Radio
Arthur Russell
Article
Ash Ra Temple
Audiogon
Audiophile
avant
Avant-Garde
Avant-pop
Avant-Rock
Balearic
Bali
Ballad
Bargain Bin
Baroque Pop
Basquiat
Bauhaus
Bayou Funk
BBC
BBC Radiophonic
Beats in Space
Bebop
Belgium
Bennie Maupin
Berlin-school
Best of 2020
Beverly Glenn​-​Copeland
Bhutan Stamps
Big Band
Bill Laswell
Black Ark Studios
Black Jazz
Blaxsploitation
Blue Note
Blues
Blues Rock
Bob Marley
Bola Sete
Bollywood
Boogie
books
Boredoms
Bossa
Bossa Nova
Brazil
Brazilian Folk
Breakbeat
Breezy
Brian Eno
Bruce Weber
Bruton Music
Buddhism
Cabaret
Calypso
CAN
Cape Verde
Caribbean
Cartridges
Casio
Cassette
Cats
CD
Channel One Studios
Chanson
Charles Lloyd
Charles Mingus
Chee Shimizu
Chet Baker
Chicago
Choral
City Pop
Classical
Classics
Coctueau Twins
Commercial
Community
Compass Point
Compilation
Condesa Electronics
Conny Plank
Contemporary Jazz
Cornelius
Cosmic
Cosmic Disco
Cosmic Folk
Country
Country-Rock
Covers
Cult Classic
Cumbia
Daft Punk
Dance
Dancehall
Dark
Dark Entries
David Bowie
David Byrne
Davida
Deep Dive
Deep Listening
Delia Derbyshire
Demo
Dennis Bovell
Denon
Detroit
Devotional
Diasporic Disco
Dick Verdult
Diggin in the Mags
Disco
Discogs
DIY
DIY / Amateur
DJ
Documentary
Don Buchla
Don Cherry
Donald Byrd
Doom Metal
Downtempo
Dr. John
Dream House
Dream Pop
Dreamy
Drone
Drum Break
Drum Machine
Drum n Bass
Drums
Dub
Dub Poetry
dublab
Dubwise
Durutti Column
Düsseldorf School
Eames
Earl King
Early Electronic
East African
EBM
ECM
Electric Lady
Electro
Electronic
Electronica
Elegant Pop
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam
Enossified
Environmental Music
Eric Dolphy
ESG
Esoteric
ESP Institute
Essential Listen
Essential Listening
Essential Listenning
Ethereal
Ethiopian Jazz
Ethnic
Event
Events
Exotica
Experimental
Factory Records
Fela Kuti
Field recording
Films
Fingertracks
Fingetracks
Fishing with John
Fleetwood Sound Company
Floating
Floating Points
Folk
Folk-Rock
Fonts
Fourth World
France
Free Improvisation
Free Jazz
Friends of ISC
Frippertronics
Funk
Fusion
G.S. Schray
Gal Costa
Gamelan
Garage Rock
Garrard
Gems from the Dollar Bin
George Martin
Gilberto Gil
Gogo
Gospel
Grado
Graphic Novel
Grateful Dead
Group Sounds
Guide
Guitar
Hard Bop
Harold Budd
Harp
Harry Nilsson
Haruomi Hosono
Heavy Metal
Henry Lewy
Herbie Hancock
hi-fi
hi-NRG
Hidden Gem
Highlife
Hip Hop
Hiroshi Yoshimura
history
Holger Czukay
Holiday
Hollywood
Holy Grail
Home Listening
House
Hypnotic
Iasos
IDM
Illustration
Improvisation
In Conversation
India
Indian
Indian Classical
Indie
Indie Rock
Industrial
Ingmar Bergman
instock
Instrumental
International
Interview
ISC Classic
ISC Collection
isc guide
ISC Record Store
ISC Selects
Island Records
Isolation
Italo Disco
Italy
Jackie McLean
Jamaica
James Baldwin
Japananese
Japanese
Jazz
jazz kissa
Jazz-funk
Jazz-rock
JBL
John Fahey
John Martyn
Jon Hassell
Joni Mitchell
Judee Sill
K. Leimer
Kankyo Ongaku
Keith Haring
Keith Jarrett
Kid-Friendly
Kitty Records
Klaus Schulze
Klipsch
Kompakt
Kosmiche
Kosmische
KPM
Kraftwerk
Krautrock
L.Shankar
La Monte Young
Labels We Love
Lafawndah
Lagniappe Sessions
Laraaji
Larry Levan
Last Resort
Laswell
Latin
Latin Jazz
Laurel Canyon
Laurie Spiegel
Leaving Records
Lebanese
Lee Scratch Perry
Left-field
Leftfield
Lena Horne
Les Baxter
Lester Bowie
Library
Library Music
Liquid Liquid
Listening bar
Live Performance
Live Recording
Los Angeles
Lost & Sound
lost and sound
Louisiana Blues
Lounge
Lounge Lizards
Love Songs
Lovefingers
Lovely Music Ltd.
Lovers Rock
Luaka Bop
Mad Professor
Marantz
Marcel Duchamp
Marcos Valle
mbaqanga
McIntosh
Meditation
Meditative
Melancholic
Mellow
Melody As Truth
Meredith Monk
Metal
Michael Franks
Mid-Century
Miles Davis
Milford Graves
Mills College
Minako Yoshida
Minimal
Minneapolis Sound
Mixes
Mizell Brothers
Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs
Modal
Modern Classical
Moki Cherry
Mono
Mort Garson
Motown
MPB
MTV
Munich
Music Blog
Music from Memory
Music Interior
Music Therapy
Music Video
Mwandishi
Narrative
Neptunes
New Age
New Music
New Wave
News
Nico
Nina Simone
No Wave
Noise
Non-Profit
Northern Soul
Now Sound
NTS
Nubian Pop
Nubian Soul
Numero Group
NYC
OBI
Obscure
Obscure Sound
On Screen
On-U Sound
online radio
Organic
Organic Music
Ornette Coleman
Ortofon
Oswalds Mill Audio
Outsider Pop
Overtone Singing
Painting
Painting with John
Pandit Pran Nath
Paradise Garage
Pastoral
Patrick Cowley
Paul Horn
Paul McCartney
Pauline Oliveros
PBS
Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Pensive
Percussion
Pharoah Sanders
Phillip Glass
Piano
Pioneer
Plantasia
Plants
playlist
Playlists
Plinth
Political
Pop
Pop Rock
Popul Vuh
Post Bop
Post Rock
Post-Punk
Power Pop
Premiere
Prince
Private Press
Productions
Professor Longhair
Prog Rock
Progressive
Progressive Rock
Prophet-5
Psychedelic
Psychedelic Rock
Psyhedelic
Punk
Qobuz
Quadraphonic
QUARK
Quiet Storm
R&B
Radio
Raga
Rare Groove
rca victor
Receivers
Record Label
Record Stores
Record Stories
Reggae
Reggaeton
Reissue
Reissues
Releases
Remix
Rock
Rocksteady
Roland
Roland Kirk
Roller Skate
Room Recordings
Room Treatment
Roots Reggae
Rotary Mixers
Rough Trade
Rudy Van Gelder
Ryuichi Sakamoto
Ryuichi Sakmoto
Sacred
Sade
Sam Gendel
Samba
Samples
Sci-fi
Séance Centre
Seefeel
Sensual
Shamisen
share
Shibuya-kei
Shoegaze
Singer-Songwriter
Sisters with Transistors
Sly & Robbie
Smooth Jazz
Soft Rock
Solid State
Songwriting
Sonny Sharrock
Soul
Soul-jazz
Sound Collage
Soundsystems
Soundtrack
South Africa
South African
South America
speakers
Spiritual
Spiritual Jazz
Spoken Word
Staff Picks
Steely Dan
Stereolab
Stereophile
Steven Halpern
Stevie Wonder
Stoner Rock
stores we love
Streaming
Street Soul
Studio One
Sun Ra
Sunn O)))
Surround Sound
Susumu Yokota
Suzanne Cianni
Suzanne Kraft
SYNG
Synth
Synth Pop
Synth-pop
Synthesizer
Synthwave
Taarab
Takoma Records
Tangerine Dream
Tape
Tapes
TD-160
Techno
Techno Pop
Television
Terry Callier
Terry Riley
The Beatles
The Broad
The Loft
The Meters
The Mizell Brothers
The Music Center
The World Stage
Thelonious Monk
Third Side Music
Third Stream
This Mortal Coil
Thorens
Tim Sweeney
Too Pure Records
Total Luxury Spa
Traditional
Tribal
Trip-hop
Tropical
Tropicalia
Tuareg
Tube
Turntable
TV
UK
Underrated
Val Wilmer
Vanity Fair
Velvet Underground
Vice
Video
Vince Guaraldi
Vintage
Vintage Gear
vinyl
Virginia Astley
Visible Cloaks
Visual Art
Vocal
Vocoder
Walearic
Wally Badarou
Water
Website
Werner Herzog
West Africa
West African
Windham Hill
World
Yacht Rock
Yasuaki Shimizu
Yellow Magic Orchestra
Yma Sumac
YouTube
Zamrock
Zither