From http://wingedwizard.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/solomon-island-tree-curse/

Solomon Islands

According to some reports in the Solomon Islands of the pacific the islanders practice a special form of curse magic. If a tree needs to be cut down and it is too big to be chopped down, it is brought down by the combined efforts of the Islanders cursing negatively and yelling at the tree. This negative energy somehow damages the tree’s life energy the result being after about 30 days of getting cursed the tree dies off and falls to the ground!

And this was also cited in an Indian movie called Taare Jameen Par.

I want to know, is this claim true? Can trees die like this? And is this actually practiced in Solomon Islands?

  • 9
    I'll leave this open as it is a much more specific claim of a measurable effect aside from a general "Does black magic work" question. Sep 15, 2014 at 1:50
  • 1
    Story seems to pop up on several places, but I'm no anthropologist. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Archives/…
    – Spork
    Sep 15, 2014 at 13:01
  • 3
    While cursing of course has no effect on plants dying, it's hard to claim such things when the only research that would be published is of the surprising kind, such as that noise pollution could actually affect plant growth, through keeping birds/insects away: npr.org/2012/03/26/149236074/…. I'm not sure your question will be answerable, it's obviously a false claim but there will be permanent caveats since the only proof is absence of evidence.
    – Spork
    Sep 15, 2014 at 13:04
  • 11
    I care for trees for a living, so I know from a scientific standpoint, as well as personal experience, that cursing will in no way alter the growth or health of a tree. I remember a while back, people studied and found that if you sing to a houseplant for hours a day, at close range, they grew better. That was shown to be caused by an increase in co2, which sped up plant growth.
    – J. Musser
    Sep 16, 2014 at 2:23
  • 9
    However, you can damage/kill a tree by suddenly allowing a ton of foot traffic where there wasn't before. This can compact the ground, and kill a significant number of feeder roots. That's why a good number of trees that are very attractive, and nicely sized can't be used as street or lawn trees. They can't take the foot traffic.
    – J. Musser
    Sep 16, 2014 at 2:26

1 Answer 1

  1. The claim is not true, since there is no validated instance of trees dying of cursing except for a mention by Robert Fulghum in his 1988 book 'All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten'. Robert Fulghum also does not know the source of the claim nor whether it is practiced in Solomon islands or not.

    In the Solomon Islands in the south Pacific some villagers practice a unique form of logging. If a tree is too large to be felled with an ax, the natives cut it down by yelling at it. (Can't lay my hands on the article, but I swear I read it.) Woodsmen with special powers creep up on a tree just at dawn and suddenly scream at it at the top of their lungs. They continue this for thirty days. The tree dies and falls over. The theory is that the hollering kills the spirit of the tree. According to the villagers, it always works.

    Source: Yelling from All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum

  2. An experiment by the Mythbusters found that separate soundtracks of loving praise and cruel insults played on repeat in two separate greenhouses produced no difference in plant quality of both greenhouses.

    Some plant enthusiasts think that showering seedlings with sunlight, water and healthy soil isn't enough. To really make their roots sing, these backyard botanists believe they can sweet talk their gardens into growing better. To see whether kind words could really yield fertile results, the skeptical MythBusters procured 60 pea plants and divided them into three greenhouse groups. Then, they recorded two soundtracks — one of loving praise and one of cruel insults — and played them on repeat in two separate greenhouses. A third greenhouse remained mum as an experimental control.To give the myth a fighting chance of flourishing, the team charted the plants' growth over 60 days. Afterward, the MythBusters determined the winning greenhouse by comparing plant masses from the three groups. To their surprise, the silent greenhouse performed poorest, producing lower biomass and smaller pea pods than the other two. Although there was no difference in plant quality between the nice greenhouse and the mean greenhouse, the soundtracks seemed to produce a positive effect in both.

    Source: Talking to Plants

  • They actually recently found that "talking" to plants has effects on the growth because of the CO2 exhaled by the person. Of course playing a recorded message wouldn't have any effect.
    – algiogia
    Oct 24, 2016 at 15:20

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