Taking Inventory: Vines
Here's something to cling to!
Minecraft’s jungles are not easy to traverse. The abundance of underbrush and dense foliage, combined with fallen logs lying everywhere, make travel a slow business. Instead of traveling on the ground like some earth-bound mortal, take a leaf out of Tarzan’s book and clamber up to the canopy with the help of our item of the week - the vine.
Vine was a short-form video hosting service on which users shared six-second-long... no, wait. Wrong Wikipedia page. Vines are plants that grow long stems that reach from the ground all the way up to the forest canopy, where there’s more precious sunlight.
They were added to Minecraft in beta version 1.8, alongside fence gates, glass panes, and ender pearls. They’re not solid - you can walk through them - but they will slow you down in the process. You can break them fairly quickly, but you can only collect them if you chop them with shears. Oh, and you can climb them, just like a ladder. Which is handy if you forgot to bring ladders.
Vines spawn all over the place in jungle biomes, mostly attached to jungle trees and terrain but also hanging down from the canopy. In a pinch, you can also sometimes find them in swamps and woodland mansions. Occasionally you might find one on a watchtower wall in a pillager outpost. Oh, and wandering traders will sell them.
In the real world, vines are any plant that climbs or hangs down - including grapes, ivy and more. The ones most like Minecraft’s vines are a group of plants called “lianas”, which live in tropical (and some temperate) rainforests and hang down from above.
Lianas are pretty important for forest wildlife. Monkeys, sloths, lizards and other canopy-dwelling species use them to get around, because they act as bridges between trees. They can also stop weaker trees from falling down in storms. But it’s not all good news - lianas compete for the same resources that trees do, so the trees that they climb grow slower than those without lianas.
So next time you’re passing through a jungle in Minecraft, do the trees a favour and swish the vines off them. They’ll thank you for it! Er, silently.
- Duncan Geere