First recorded in 1950–55; derived from two words, botany and phobia. Botanophobia is an intense fear of plants. The condition is called a specific phobia (fear). Phobia is a type of anxiety disorder.
People with botanophobia might believe that plants can harm people. Or they might worry that plants will evolve and overtake humans. They may think plants are toxic or infested with harmful germs. Or they may even falsely believe that plants will suck up all the oxygen.
People with botanophobia often go to great lengths to avoid plants, such as:
· Deciding where to live based on plant life.
· Refusing to go outdoors.
· Skipping educational, professional or personal activities that involve plants.
Because plants are almost everywhere, botanophobia can cause significant stress and even physical symptoms. A person with botanophobia may understand that the fear is extreme, but can’t control it.
Botanophobia can involve fear of a specific type of plant or all plant life. The condition is also related to other specific phobias, including:
· Anthophobia, a fear of flowers.
· Dendrophobia, a fear of trees.
· Germophobia, a fear of germs, which may live on plants.
· Entomophobia, a fear of insects, which are often found on plants.
· Nosophobia, a fear of illness, which a person with botanophobia might think can happen with plant exposure.
Healthcare providers aren’t sure what causes specific phobias, such as botanophobia. But most mental health professionals believe it’s often caused by some combination of:
· Genetics: Some people have a family history of anxiety and specific fears.
· Superstitions and cultural meanings: Some cultures pass down stories and beliefs that plants are associated with witches, fairies, demons, and other mystical beings.
· Traumatic experiences associated with plant life: This may include having a bad case of poison ivy, seeing flowers at a funeral or watching a horror movie involving a killer plant.
“Botanophobia (Fear of Plants): Overview, Causes & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22589-botanophobia-fear-of-plants.
Photo credit: Teresa Watkins