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From the late 60s or 70s: explorers on a new planet find what appear to be a sexy naked woman resting in the forest. One man does what comes naturally, after which the "woman" curls up and rejects any advance. After some more, ahem, research, the realize these are flowers waiting to be pollinated. The kicker is that the humans figure out how to selectively breed special-taste (so to speak) versions of these flowers.

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    I've definitely read this. There was just one explorer; there was some mental conditioning that the explorers underwent which was supposed to make them mentally productive during the flight, but it had never worked for anyone before. But after his strenuous ... efforts ... with many of the flowers, he was so exhausted that it kicked in and gave him the understanding of how to breed the flowers - and also change the pheromones to leave the planet off-putting for everyone else. Jun 7, 2023 at 16:34
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    Yeah I've read it, the guy brings these to Earth, women see them as a large smelly cabbage but men see them as very sexy women.
    – Danny Mc G
    Jun 7, 2023 at 16:44
  • @user14111 ah yes, thought it was in an Aldiss anthology but I couldn't find which one in isfdb. You should post this as an answer. Jun 7, 2023 at 18:51

1 Answer 1

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"Planting Time", a 1975 short story by Pete Adams and Charles Nightingale, which you might have read in one of these anthologies. I read it in Galactic Empires Volume I (Brian Aldiss, ed.) which can be borrowed from the Internet Archive.

The plant-women are not quite naked:

Dreamily following his nose, Randy strolled through a clump of trees that took him out of sight of the ship, and halted abruptly in their shadow while all considerations of the penalties for cultural interference drained from his mind. On the green plain beyond, reality shimmered as if the light-waves themselves were melting in the heat. Then his vision cleared, and there appeared before him, seated on a couch of velvet leaves, a creature of such spectacular beauty that he found himself vowing feverishly never again to waste his time with the 3-D pull-out pin-downs from Stagman magazine.

She appeared not to have seen him as she gazed out to sea with mysterious hooded eyes, her body languid and relaxed on the couch. She wore nothing but a short blue shift of some intricately worked material, and the sunlight lapped across her skin to make a tapestry of glowing curves and enticing shadows. Softly Randy moved to her side and amazingly she turned to welcome him, making a tentative movement with her hand which he took as an invitation. He sat down, paused for a moment on the edge of conversation, then reached instead to stroke the dark brown hair that swept like a long veil down her back. Words were unnecessary for the messages pouring between them in the electric air, and the lady showed no sign of wanting a language lesson.

Breeding special-taste varieties on Earth:

Thus Randy and his brood preserve a comfortable monopoly. The Companion, too, proved to be an unrivalled teacher; the girls in the 'Pleasure Gardens', now a universal attraction, are renowned as much for their seductive conversation as for their physical skills. Naturally they are all experts in bluegrass music. And the hybrid strains developed with the aid of the computer become more delectable year by year, especially those highly prized specimens reputed to resemble famous beauties of the past. The Cleopatra Convulser, the Bardot Brainstorm, and the Lovelace Paralyzer have passed into legend.

So that, girls, is the story of the famed horticulturalist Randy Richmond, known throughout the galaxy (although the plus-light pilots have, I believe, a slightly different version) as 'Mr. Greenfingers'. All strength to his compost, and may his flyspray never dwindle! Now, dig in. Another batch of conservationists just stopped by our greenhouse.

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  • Thank you! I read it in that same "Galactic Empires," but sadly don't still have that book in my possession. Jun 8, 2023 at 2:57
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    heh, 'Randy' - this is the British English word for what Americans call 'horny'.
    – j4nd3r53n
    Jun 8, 2023 at 13:59

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