Arbutus is an artist, and loves to create. He expresses his art in the forms of the plants he creates, shaping them into visions of beauty. He loves his plants and even seems to think of them as his children. But he holds humanity in low regard due to their inconsiderate treatment of vegetation and their refusal to exist harmoniously with nature, thus in return he treats humans as uncaringly as they would treat plants.
He is dry, cynical, acts somewhat like a gentleman, and values beauty in many forms, and he thinks highly of himself and nature, claiming that blades may "sever every limb, every branch but [his] power will always bloom".
But despite his antagonistic ways towards humans, Arbutus is truly a good person who loves his garden as families love each other. And he was convinced by Jasmine that not all humans are bad, as some appreciate nature; the beauty of a flower, the shade of a tree, the joy of planting a seed and watching it grow. And he noted how Jasmine is named for the flower, but became quickly enraged when Aladdin's destructive intrusion into his garden showed that he was not one of those humans.
Powers and abilities
As an entity of nature and plants, Arbutus can create any form of plant, from vines to thorns to trees to flowers, and shape them however he desires. He also seems to have the ability to send telepathic messages, as the Sultan dreamed his memory of meeting Arbutus and the promise he made to him. Whether or not this was Arbutus's doing is still unknown. Arbutus's garden seems to be tied to the life of its master; when Arbutus died his garden shriveled up and died with him. Arbutus though virtually unbeatable, had one great weakness, his entire life force was connected to the single flower over his heart, all one had to do was cut it off and he died. When fighting Aladdin, he was shown to have the ability to grow to incredible size as well.
Role in the series
Twenty years ago, the Sultan, as a young man, came upon the Garden and explored it. The Sultan made the mistake of plucking a beautiful flower as a gift for his wife, which spurred the wrath of Arbutus. To quell his anger, the Sultan promised Arbutus whatever he wanted; Arbutus agreed, promising in twenty years time he would come and take the Sultan's dearest treasure.
Came he did, and Arbutus did indeed take what was dearest to the sultan; his daughter, Jasmine. Taking the princess to his garden, Arbutus intended to have her become a part of his works of art and to critique them. He treated her cruelly, expressing his hatred of humanity's actions against nature for crass purposes (burning wood for warmth, allowing smoke to pollute the air and block out the sun, collecting flowers to die a slow death in a vase), causing Jasmine to understand why he treated her so offhandedly. Jasmine almost convinced Arbutus that humans aren't as bad as he thinks of them but Aladdin's sudden appearance, slashing through his garden with a sabre without any care to what beautiful creations he destroys dashes those doubts away. In the struggle and despite Jasmine and Genie's protests, Aladdin manages to kill Arbutus by cutting the rose from his chest but is chastised by Jasmine who laments on the death, saying Arbutus cared about his garden the same way Aladdin and her father love her.
Jasmine and Aladdin honor Arbutus by planting his rose, which seems to take a breath, implying perhaps someday Arbutus might be reborn.
- While his actions and mannerisms make him seem like a villain, Arbutus' actions were motivated by sincere love for his garden, plants, and nature, as well as his creativity as an artist. His actions were somewhat justified by his perspective of humans and calling even simple ways of how they mistreat his plants cruel, making Arbutus more of an anti-villain.
- Arbutus bears a physical resemblance to Jafar.