Taking Inventory: Dead Bush

The most popular item in Minecraft! Right?

We’re now several months deep into Taking Inventory, our column that takes an in-depth look at every item in the game, and we’ve covered some really exciting items. The tripwire hook! The turtle shell! The, er, shovel! But covering all the items in Minecraft means covering all the items in Minecraft – even the ones which, for some reason, people aren’t bombarding us with memes on Twitter about. Like this week’s item!

Today, it’s time to cover the dead bush, so I’m going to do my best to convince you that it’s the most exciting, enthralling and entertaining item in the game. For this week, anyway. Then next week we’ll go back to whatever the kids are getting excited about these days. Spider eyes, or dragon eggs or something. Alright, let’s do it!

Dead bushes were added to Minecraft in beta 1.6, alongside maps, grass, and trapdoors. They’re a true miracle of nature — they’re totally impervious to bone meal, and will never spread, so hold onto them carefully because the only way to get more is to find them in the world.

Dead bushes spawn during world generation in desert, badlands and giant tree taiga biomes. You might find them occasionally in flower pots in desert villages, when the inhabitants have forgotten to water their flowers for a few months (we’ve all been there), and occasionally in chests in desert houses, where perhaps the inhabitants can’t bring themselves to throw away their deceased but beloved plants.

Harvesting a dead bush is pretty simple. You can either bash it with your hands and it’ll probably drop a few sticks, or carefully snip it away from its base with a pair of shears to drop the item itself. Once you’ve got one, you can plant it in a flowerpot of your own, or place it on any kind of sand, terracotta, dirt or podzol. They’re flammable, and in the upcoming Village & Pillage update, you’ll be able to use them as fuel, which is quite exciting.

In the real world, plants die of course. But what you might not know is that a bunch of different plants use their death as an opportunity to spread their seeds far and wide. These species, collectively known as tumbleweed, live in dry and windy parts of the world and have evolved to detach from their roots when they don’t have enough water to survive any longer.

The dried-out bush is then blown across the landscape by the wind, either slowly falling apart and dispersing seeds over a wide area, or coming to rest in a wetter location where its seeds can germinate into new plants. The death of these plants becomes an important part of their lifecycle, ensuring that new generations get the best possible chance to survive.

In 1989, the town of Mobridge, South Dakota in the United States got a taste of this cycle of renewal first-hand. The town woke up on the morning of November 9th to find themselves buried under an avalanche of tumbleweed, blocking roads and trapping people in their homes. A couple of years of drought had dried out a local reservoir where millions of Russian thistle plants were growing, and a windstorm caused them all to break off at once. Officials eventually cleared the tumbleweed by crushing it using hay-balers.

So that’s the dead bush. I don’t know about you, but it actually turned out to be more interesting than I thought! Not convinced? Tell us on Twitter which items you’d like to us cover, and we’ll add them to the list!

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere