All I remember about this story (possibly a novel or novella, possibly by Poul Anderson) is that the butterflies on this planet are plants. The author uses a clever latinate word based on “phyto” to name these forms. Also, no one realizes the plants are telepathic.

Contact with the plants may be forbidden or deadly; may have been the first of two stories set on the planet. Sorry the details are so vague—I am sure I read it only once.

  • Poul is very post-Golden Age Can you actually date the story?
    – Solemnity
    Apr 17, 2013 at 2:18
  • Nope. I only mention P.A. because I remember making a mental note to that effect---but it was about 40 years ago. Could have been from as late as the 1960s.
    – Alveric
    Apr 17, 2013 at 2:48
  • Okay, understandable that it was a bit ago- how did it feel in your hands? It's going to be a harder one, so- where were you while you read it?
    – Solemnity
    Apr 17, 2013 at 3:02
  • That memory is lost, unfortunately. I'm sure it was a hardback library book. I seem to recall that something about the plants was forbidden on pain of death . . . and that there was a continuation or part 2. I'll change the tag to "novel."
    – Alveric
    Apr 17, 2013 at 12:12
  • Thanks David. That must be it---even though the phytozoons are apparently the only thing I remembered correctly!
    – Alveric
    Jun 17, 2013 at 12:21

1 Answer 1


This sounds like the novelette "Hunter, Come Home" (1963), by Richard McKenna. In this story, which deals with an attempt to terraform the planet by releasing the killer plant Thanasis to destroy the native ecosystem, the butterflies are called "phytozoons", or "phytos" for short, and are "mixed plant and animal". According to the bibliographical information in front of me, this story is a revised version of "The Night of Hoggy Darn" (1958), which I have not read. This might account for your remembering it as two stories.

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