Sunday, June 17, 2012

Odd Earth Plants

If you want a cool type of plant to inhabit your world or universe, sometimes all you have to do is look around Earth to find some interesting possibilities to ponder. Just think about it, there are Earth plants that live floating in the seas, submerged along coasts, in marshes, bogs and swamps, in rain forests, deserts, steppes, mountains, prairies, tundra … even surrounding underwater volcano vents as well as land-based geysers and hot springs. It seems like whatever the type of climate and topography where you want plants to grow, Earth might have some plants that would give you possibilities to consider.

But besides trying to figure out if your alien lawn is going to be more like grass or moss, just a little bit of looking around at Earth plants might give you some extra thoughts to ponder. How do your alien plants scatter their babies for the next generation?

Earth plants have a variety of methods; air, land and, uh, animals. By air, we’ve all seen dandelions in their final stage, and any little breeze sends those seeds scattering over the neighbor’s lawn. By land, wild strawberries nearly took over my lawn last year, sending ‘runners’ between the grass blades to create baby plants. And plenty of berry plants rely on birds and other animals to eat their berries and then ‘deposit’ the un-digested seeds in another location.

I just read about one of those plants. The sweet mignonette can only survive in certain conditions, and obviously, if one has matured and produced berries, it has found those conditions. The soil a few feet away might not be as good a location. Mignonette berries are sweet, but its seeds – if chewed – are referred to as ‘mustard bombs’. Mice eat the berries and spit the seeds out near the base of the parent plant.

I’ve also heard of a plant that doesn’t rely on any of those unpredictable methods; it bends over and pushes its own seeds into the ground.

So, as you think about the plants on your alien world, have some fun researching some of the ‘odder’ Earth planets for useful ideas.

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