The fear of Tumbleweeds: Grasartophobia

The fear of Tumbleweeds: Grasartophobia

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Grasartophobia is the fear of tumbleweeds.  Tumbleweed is a structural part of the above-ground anatomy of a number of species of plants. It is a diaspore that once it is mature and dry, detaches from its root or stem and rolls due to the force of the wind. In most such species, the tumbleweed is in effect the entire plant apart from the root system, but in other plants, a hollow fruit or inflorescence might detach instead.

what is The fear of Tumbleweeds?

Apart from its primary vascular system and roots, the tissues of the tumbleweed structure are dead; their death is functional because it is necessary for the structure to degrade gradually and fall apart so that its seeds or spores can escape during the tumbling, or germinate after the tumbleweed has come to rest in a wet location. In the latter case, many species of tumbleweed open mechanically, releasing their seeds as they swell when they absorb water

Grasartophobia can be termed as a specific phobia under the branch of botanophobia. Hence, for a better understanding of this phobia let’s elaborate more on botanophobia.

Botanophobia is the irrational fear of plants. Someone suffering from this condition will find the mere thought of plants (as in this case of tumbleweed) to be extremely anxiety provoking, let alone actually being near one in real life. In some extreme cases, their intense fear of plants may be so intrusive and overwhelming that they may even experience full blown panic attacks which may require them to be hospitalized. Although such an occurrence may not be common for everyone suffering with botanophobia, it is still plausible to happen nonetheless.

Someone with botanophobia may go to painstaking lengths to ensure that they refrain from seeing or being near any pants. Due to the fact that plants, such as trees and grass cover a great amount of territory in many areas, it may be quite difficult for someone with botanophobia to go about avoiding it. So, someone with botanophobia may find themselves staying indoors as often as they can in an attempt to reduce their chances of seeing or being near a plant of any kind.

Although avoiding plants may help them to reduce any sort of acute anxiety that they would have otherwise experienced, doing so may be harmful in the long run due to the fact that by avoiding plants they will also be reinforcing their fear of them as well. Be that as it may, avoidance is a very common behavior with people suffering from most phobias, including botanophobia.

Symptoms of Grasartophobia:

As is the case with virtually every phobia, anxiety will be one of the main symptoms that someone with grasartophobia can expect to experience. As previously mentioned, someone suffering from botanophobia may experience full blown panic attacks if they are exposed to too many plants at one time or if they are simply unable to cope with the intense amount of dread with which they associate with plants.

Someone with this phobia may have anxiety that is so extreme that they may make major life decisions based on their fear alone, such as choosing to live in an area where plant life especially tumble weed is sparsely distributed. This may mean that they would then choose to live on a beachfront somewhere or in the middle of a large city. Their botanophobia may also greatly interfere with their relationships too. For example, someone with this condition may reject many offers from friends and family to visit them or to go to certain places with them due to their fear of them potentially seeing plants.

Below, you will see some more common symptoms of botanophobia:

  • Anxiety when thinking of plants
  • Anxiety when near a plant
  • Avoiding plants
  • Unable to cope with their anxiety
  • Muscle tension, shakiness, and sweating
  • May experience panic attacks

Causes of the fear of Tumbleweeds

There are no known causes of botanophobia (grasartophobia). However, genetics and one’s environment may play very significant roles. For example, if someone were to have a family history of mental illness, then they may have a higher chance of developing an irrational fear of plants. This may be due to them then having a higher chance of having a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness in general.

If they were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown botanophobia. Essentially, any sort of emotionally painful experience that had something to do with plants may be enough for someone to develop this condition insofar as they have the proper genetics that is.

In fact, even if a plant wasn’t the focal point of their traumatic experience, they may still associate it with their painful emotions. For example, if someone became much blistered from poison ivy or had a nasty experience related to tumble weeds while walking in the woods, then the painful experience they endured of waiting for their irritated skin to heal may be enough for someone with a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness to then develop botanophobia.

Although there are no definitive causes of botanophobia, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that both genetics and one’s environment may play very significant roles in the development of any given mental disorder. So, taking a closer look at these two different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you may be at risk for developing botanophobia.

Treatments for Grasartophobia

Exposure therapy is one of the most common forms of treatment for people suffering from anxiety disorders and may also be very effective at treating botanophobia as well. Exposure therapy works by having the therapist slowly expose the patient to their fear over a given period of time. Theoretically, the more someone is exposed to something they fear, the less it will bother them over time. This is essentially how exposure therapy works.

The therapist may start off slowly (depending on how severe their botanophobia is) by showing them pictures or videos of plants and tumble weeds . Although this doesn’t sound like much exposure, for someone suffering from botanophobia this may be very anxiety provoking.

The therapist may then move on to expose the patient to an actual plant in real life insofar as the patient can handle the anxiety that will come with it. With this being said, it is very important that the therapist implementing exposure therapy is very adept and experienced seeing as how if the patient is exposed to too much too soon, then their botanophobia may actually worsen.


There are no treatments that are specifically designed to treat grasartophobia. Be that as it may, there are still several forms of treatment that can help to reduce many of the symptoms associated with it, such as anxiety, among other symptoms. Some forms of treatment that may be beneficial for someone suffering from grasartophobia is exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and some psychiatric medications.

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