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In WALL•E, EVE found a plant when visiting Earth for a routine check. When reading this question about the plant, it is called a pea plant. However, it does not actually look much like a pea plant, and it got me to thinking.

What kind of plant is it that is found by EVE?

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An animated plant...I assume the animators don't really care if it looks like a pea plant, though maybe they think pea plants will look different in the future – CHEESE Mar 17 at 13:21
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When I saw "EVE" I thought of the bible, and then noticed it's on scifi.stackexchange and couldn't help but chuckle. Needless to say, I was slightly disappointed. – FreeAsInBeer Mar 18 at 14:32
    
@FreeAsInBeer Heh... I saw a Hot Network Question this afternoon, saying "What tribe did Paul belong to?" and I thought, "not tribe, sietch" until I noticed that it wasn't for this site. – Mr Lister Mar 18 at 20:10
    
@CHEESE What makes you think there's any aspect of visual design that animators (especially at Pixar!) "don't really care" about? – Kyle Strand Mar 18 at 21:16
    
@KyleStrand True. – CHEESE Mar 18 at 21:19
up vote 53 down vote accepted

In universe

Within the script the plant is simply referred to as ...

...a SMALL PLANT

This image from the film's concept art archive states that it is indeed a pea plant

enter image description here

That being said, if the animation at the end of the film is anything to go by, it's actually some kind of mutant pea sapling since peas don't usually grow into trees.

enter image description here


Out of universe

According to 'The Art of WALL•E' the model for EVE's plotline was in fact Noah's Ark, with EVE acting the part of the dove.

"At a meeting, somebody said that EVE should be like the dove in the Noah's Ark story. We thought "that'll work". We rejiggered the story so her job is to bring that plant back to the ship and signal that it's safe to go back to Earth" - Jim Reardon - Head of story/writer

That being the case, the twig was inspired by Genesis 8:11 and would have been an olive branch

And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

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"Obviously the Captain is hoping for a fine crop of pizzas" - the only way to quiet the masses! – Raystafarian Mar 17 at 17:31
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I initially was going to argue for some kind of vine seedling (because that's the only thing I could find that it's referred as, online), but your answer showed me this was clearly wrong - thank you. Your script reference also suggests that it was deliberately ambiguous, to the point where I think that is likely to be the correct answer. If it must be any specific species, then I think circumstantial evidence supporting it being an apple is highest, but I think ambiguity wins. – Dewi Morgan Mar 17 at 20:09
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@DewiMorgan - I expect they modeled it on a real plant though. I'm trying to find a "making of" that references the design/concept-art process. – Valorum Mar 17 at 21:08
    
That would be the final nail, fersure! Good hunting! – Dewi Morgan Mar 17 at 21:09
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@ANeves - I merely included it for completeness. My personal belief is that it's some kind of mutant apple tree. The plot synthesis between EVE bringing humanity an apple from Eden is simply too delicious to ignore. – Valorum Mar 18 at 16:22

My guess is an apple seedling. I regret, however, I have no strong evidence for this - just lots of suggestive hints.

For a start, the sapling looks like a CG apple seedling:

The Wall•E sapling The Wall•E sapling.

A CG Apple sapling A CG Apple sapling.

Even the EVE project logo, which I feel is a foreshadowing/echo of the seedling she finds, looks like an apple tree logo.

The EVE seedling logo The EVE seedling logo.

Apple tree logo An apple tree logo.

But also, consider the obvious Adam/Eve symbology here.

What plant would EVE find, but the apple tree? Metaphorically, it fits: she finds the tree of knowledge that leads humanity away from the Eden of perfect bliss to the deeper life of hardship and knowledge.

But perhaps most significantly, I think, there's another angle. EVE was a love letter to Apple, the company.

Andrew Stanton, Wall•E's director, said "The more I started describing [EVE's design], the more I realized I was pretty much describing the Apple playbook for design." So he called up Steve Jobs, who sent his lead designer, Jonathan Ive, designer of the iMac, iPhone, iPod etc, over to Pixar to consult with Stanton on the prototype. http://www.firstshowing.net/2008/apples-designer-actually-helped-design-wall-es-eve-robot/

Pixar used to be owned by Steve Jobs, until Disney bought it.

The movie features a video iPod (Wall•E watches "Hello Dolly!" on it; the Mac Welcome chime (when Wall•E finishes recharging); Apple mice skitter across the floor; there's a Mac keyboard in Wall•E's truck; the spaceship's computer control speaks with the voice of the early Mac speech synth, "MacinTalk"; and so forth.

Did EVE definitively find an apple? I don't think so. But I don't think any other plant makes sense.

[Edit: all the above said, my impression from the movie was that it was some kind of vine - or a beanstalk? A jack-and-the-beanstalk reference, perhaps? @Richard makes a good point that this is provably false given the final animation, and I think also makes a good, script-referenced argument that the plant is deliberately ambiguous.]

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The screen-shot from the movie is indeed very pea (or other herbaceous legume) looking. – user23715 Mar 17 at 20:28
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I love the EVE/apple/Apple connection. Coolness. – Ernest Friedman-Hill Mar 17 at 20:28
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@user23715 Agreed. Trees tend to grow up, fast and straight, to reach light. Legumes tend to wiggle about, to reach support. It was growing wiggly, so suggested a vine. – Dewi Morgan Mar 17 at 20:35
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The logo on the front of EVE is standardised and doesn't reflect the plant she's found. It's also seen on the front of the 'Operate Manuel' – Valorum Mar 18 at 20:48
    
@Richard Good call: while I personally feel the icon is obviously a deliberate echo (foreshadow?) of the plant she finds, I obviously have no evidence for that at all. It just... makes sense? But you're right that I should make this clear for those that have not seen the movie - editing, and thanks :) – Dewi Morgan Mar 18 at 20:56

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