Mushrooms are also mentioned in a much more lighthearted tone in The Little Prince:
‘I know a planet where a certain purple-faced gentleman lives.
He has never inhaled the scent of a flower. He has never looked at a star. He has never loved anyone. He has never done anything except add up figures. And all day long, just like you, he repeats to himself: “I am a serious person! I am a serious person!” And this makes him swell up with pride. But he is not a man—he’s a mushroom!’
Saint-Exupéry often used metaphors related to gardens when expressing approval or disapproval of people and their behaviour. Examples other than the quotation below include his dividing of humans into courtyards (with “suffocating walls”) and gardens (where one “can breathe”) in a letter to Mme François de Rose (1944); and his observation that humanity has no gardener to tend to its growth at the end of Wind, Sand and Stars.
… I feel a vague unease living through these nights outside time … amid this
parasitic vegetation. These people give the impression of mushrooms living on a tree
they know nothing of and naively pursuing their cruel little existence.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry / Unmailed letter to Lieutenant Diomède Catroux (1943)