Crystal Flora

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Crystal Flora
First Appearance

1/7

Census

189 total / 85 extant

Progenitor

Binucleus Crystal Shrub

Community and Production Information
Segmented Bog Pyamus is an example of crystal flora.

Crystal flora are a type of flora that closely resemble a crystal. Their cell structure consist of two nuclei.

The Crystal Flora line.

Taxonomy

The general phylogeny of crystal flora is as follows:



Pyamus


Hollow crystals

Crystal Shells




Crystal Trees



Cellulosebanes and Grovecrystals





Korystals




Modern Marine Crystals




Phytodiamonds



Pagoda crystals






Taxon Naming Conventions

Crystal flora have their own set of taxon suffixes that are recommended for new crystal taxa.

Caption text
Rank Suffix
Division (Phylum) -crystallita
Subdivision -crystallitina
Class -crystallites
Subclass -crystallitidae
Order -ites
Family -iteae
Genus* -ite

*: The genus suffix -ite is optional.

Anatomy

Binucleus Hollow Crystal

The first thing to notice that is commonly shared among crystal flora anatomy is that it consists of two highly intertwined lineages of symbiotic life. There is an external photosynthesizing "cuticle" symbiont which commonly may be referred to as the "shell/photosynthetic symbiont" or "green tissue". The inside of the crystal, and the roots, primarily consist of red fungus-like tissue which commonly may be referred to as the "fleshy/fungus symbiont" or "red tissue". In general, the green tissue shell protects the red tissue and provides it with sugars, and in exchange the red tissue provides the green tissue with water, nutrients, and especially nitrogen, which the green tissue needs to grow.

The roots of the crystal flora, if they exist for a lineage, tend to be thick and dense with transport tissue. They may also have storage tissues in them such as what can be found in doctor pickles. From the surfaces of these roots grow mycelioid bodies which provide a massive increase to their total surface area. These stringy growths from the root surface can be as narrow as one cell thick, and may grow as single strands or as complex branches. As most crystal lineages have mixotrophic origin, with the red tissue providing a means of consuming foods by external digestion in a way comparable to Earth fungus via their roots, this increase in surface area is vital for maximizing resource acquisition. For those crystals that rely solely on photosynthesis for their energy these mycelioid bodies still provide an important function for passively absorbing water and dissolved nutrients across its surface.

The structure of the inside of the crystal itself varies from lineage to lineage. The most commonly known members of the crystal flora belong to the "hollow crystal" group, denoted by the empty space or hollow toward the center of the crystal. Others may lack this distinguishing feature, with a fleshy core instead. The cells of this inner tissue may be arranged in any number of ways. It can be simple and chunky, it can be arranged in branching web patterns such as in ora koral crystal or other korystals, in sheets like in doctor pickles or basal cellulosebanes, or long strings like in descendents of the grovecrystal or crystal swordgrass which both have red tissue dominated by their root structures.



The term "crystal" in "crystal flora" refers only to their shape. Crystal flora do not refract light like real crystals, and their interior is usually opaque.

Behavior

Crystal flora adapt to heat and light. Some species have been known to change color to absorb, reflect or conserver energy better like the massive Crystal Solar Tower.

Breathing and Blood

Respiration in crystal flora is passive, either diffusion across surfaces directly or into pores and passageways located most often in the edges of the crystals where facets meet and the symbionts interface. CO2 from the air or water is taken into the green tissue to be converted to sugars via the Calvin cycle, and this process is powered by water cracking photosynthesis. It does use oxygen for its aerobic metabolism after creating sugar. The red tissue is nonphotosynthetic and only uses the oxygen from the air or water.

None of the crystals have oxygen carrying pigments flowing freely in them. However they commonly have to some degree transport of nutrient rich saps.


Diet & Energy

The Wave Crystal collects kinetic energy from the waves.

Crystal flora are mixotrophs just like plents. They get their energy from external resources using mycelium-like roots, as well as photosynthesis. There was one oddity, the wave crystal, which used kinetic energy collected from the waves. However, calling it an "oddity" is not quite accurate. A singularly unique organism is a better descriptor, as the wave crystal was one of only two "kinetivores" in Sagan 4 history.

History

Binucleus Crystal Shrub, the common ancestor of all crystal flora.

Crystal flora evolved on an early stage form symbiotic relationship between two spore like particle. The Binucleus Icosahedron and the binucleus Truncated Icosahedron. Both species where relatively closely related being a part of the Binucleus family. The resulting lichen-like organism, the binucleus Icosahedron Truncated Icosahedron (BITI), closely resembles the Third stage of the common Crystal flora spores.

The first true crystal flora, the Binucleus Crystal Shrub, appeared in the Huggian period. Early crystal flora such as this could change color depending on lighting conditions, such as being red in deep waters like Earth's red algae. Early on, in the Ovian period, it produced interlocking coastal forms, but these quickly became extinct as a result of an impact event. In the Krakowian period, the most ancient branch of crystal flora still alive, the Binucleus Pyamuses, split off. The Crystal Korals, ancestors of modern korystals, split off in the Rhodixian Period.

The largest crystal flora to ever live appeared relatively quickly after the crystal flora invaded land.

In the Irinyan Period, the first hollow crystal, the Binucleus Hollow Crystal, evolved, abruptly sparking the invasion of the Glicker supercontinent and soon producing gigantic forms. Around the same time, pyamuses invaded the hydrothermal vent systems. However, back on land, crystals would remain mostly in the background compared to the faster-growing tree plents and purple flora which had already been established for millions of years prior. The earliest river crystals, which were hollow crystals which stayed more tied to water, appeared in the Ladymian period. The more competitive crystal weeds and crystal shoots first appeared in the Russian period.

In the Nukean period, fruiting, tree-like crystal flora derived from the crystal shoots invaded the landscape, beating a path through purple flora and tree plents using the destructive chemicals common to all crystal weeds. Meanwhile, Ice Crystals derived from more basal hollow crystals invaded the northern polar regions, though their presence was less destructive. The would continue to diversify into the Biocatian period, also during which the more ancient crystals of the coastline evolved poison. Terrestrial crystals and coastal crystals would continue to diversify as time went on. The Gateway Shrub, derived from the poisonous aquatic forms, appeared in the Allenian period.

Post-Gamma Ray Burst

The gamma ray burst mid-way through the Martykian period wiped out the giant tower-like crystals, the derived fruit-bearing crystal trees, and many of the coastal crystals. Coastal crystals quickly bounced back, and from them appeared the Ghost Crystal and the first Phytodiamond. While more primitive crystal trees survived, the reign of highly competitive crystal weeds had ended, at least for now, especially as the Crystal Rootgrass appeared in the Rabidian and outcompeted its toxic cousins. More generic forms of hollow crystals would continue to evolve, dotting Glicker's landscape while purple flora reigned. Meanwhile, coastal crystals would also produce kinetitrophic forms, and pyamuses would diversify somewhat in the deep sea.

Crystal grasses would also produce Scuttlecrab Crystals, which grew upon a branch of scuttlecrabs.

Another odd offshoot of crystals was evolving from descendants of the ice crystals, however. In the Somanian period, an odd branch would emerge from the ice caves which evolved the ability to survive uprooted, bumble around in the wind, and adjust its own position using fluid pumps. These became the Tumble Crystals, which were motile, albeit very slow. They, and many other kinds of large crystal, would not last long, however.

Post-Ice Comet

Cellulosebanes beat a path to prominence following the ice comet.

The ice comet at the start of the Raptorian period was massively devastating to flora all over Sagan 4, as debris from the impact event blocked sunlight and caused everything over 1 meter to die. Crystal flora were not immune to this and suffered heavy losses, as the tumble crystals, the remaining crystal trees, most pyamuses, and countless basal hollowcrystals and coastal crystals vanished. In the aftermath, in the seas and rivers, surviving phytodiamonds, korystals, and pyamuses diversified rapidly in the aftermath, while on land the scuttlecrab crystal branch would also evolve as their hosts did. But for sessile terrestrial crystals, a very different story was unfolding.

Crystal shoots, which retained the destructive chemicals of earlier crystal weeds, had survived the impact event, and in its aftermath, the reign of destructively competitive crystals returned with a vengeance. A new lineage, the Cellulosebane Crystals, rose to prominence. Unlike previous crystal weeds which only suppressed the growth of competing flora, the cellulosebanes killed them outright to make way for their offspring by filling the air with spores laced with cellulase. This was devastating to the purple flora of the region which had survived the initial impact event, and it also killed motile faunal plents because cellulose was an important component in their skin, effectively vastly worsening the local effects of the mass extinction event. While some plents would manage to avoid the raining death-enzymes, anywhere where cellulosebanes lived, the purple flora were completely purged. This led to crystal flora coming to rule Drake after the Glicker supercontinent broke up in the Biglian period. However, in Darwin, which is the other half of Glicker, the less competitive crystal grasses would be chipped away at by the rise of fungibanes, a similarly hyper-competitive branch of black flora.

Some time before the ice age, a plague caused the extinction of all crystals in marine environments, wiping most basal coastal crystals.

Ice Age and Snowball

The ice age, and the snowball event at its climax, resulted in the extinctions of countless crystal flora, but most groups made it through with at least one survivor, with even basal coastal crystals managing to make it through. Basal crystal grasses were wiped out, leaving only the ones growing upon the backs of now highly derived scuttlecrab symbiotes. However, in the midst of the worst of the ice age, an entirely new kind of crystal also appeared seemingly out of nowhere—the Terrace Crystals. The ghost crystals of the caverns below the surface had, apparently, retained the genes for photosynthesis from their ancestors, which allowed them to resurface and become a second lineage of terrestrial photosynthetic crystals. Additionally, with the sea levels dropped so dramatically due to global glaciation, pyamuses were able to emerge from the deep sea vents and feed from the productive shallow waters of the coast, completely skipping the deep sea they would have had to pass through otherwise.

Near the end of the snowball event, the bane-free Creeping Crystals evolved from the cellulosebanes, marking the beginning of what would become another major group of crystal flora.

Post-Snowball and Modern Crystals

Following the snowball event, as life recovered on Sagan 4, crystals re-diversified. Descendants of creeping crystals called Grovecrystals rapidly became the dominant flora in Darwin and Drake, but were also joined by descendants of the terrace crystal, the Pagoda Crystals. Some basal cellulosebanes remained, but microbes that protected other organisms from them kept them in check. Korystals also made the jump to land and became a prominent sight in the mountains of Darwin. In the seas, basal marine crystals reclaimed the coasts more or less globally, and phytodiamonds resumed dotting the ocean in the form of modern diaminets. In the Bonoian period, creeping crystals as a whole would see another burst of diversification as they produced grass-like forms on the supercontinent that's now called Wallace and extremely tree-like forms in Drake. This is where the diversity of crystal flora stands to this day.

Locomotion

Tumble Crystal The first mobile crystal flora.

Most crystal flora are immobile. One exception is the small line of crystals that lived in the tundra, they pumped antifreeze into various spikes on their bodies to weigh down one side and use gravity to slowly roll from one place to another.

Reproduction

The Crystal Oak grows many spore-filled "fruits".


Crystal flora ancestrally have a complex method of sexual reproduction that involve multiple stages of spore combination. This process begins with the creation of single nucleated haploid spores, distinct spores for both the green tissue as well as the red tissue. When these haploid spores are released, either in air or water, they must combine with a second haploid spore of their own tissue type (red with red, green with green). This is fairly comparable to standard fertilization, however the nuclei remain distinct to create new dikaryotic cells called "protospores", which then must combine with dikaryotic cells of their associating symbiont (red with green). This second combination creates a true "spore modula" containing everything needed to grow a proper crystal flora.

Some lineages of crystals forfeited this complex means of sexual reproduction in favor of asexually produced spore modula, or even purely vegetative reproduction through their roots.

One type of crystal flora, the crystal trees, pack their spores in "fruits" to be eaten by herbivores.

Senses

Crystal flora have limited sense. Simple heat and light detecting sense have evolved but nothing beyond what Earth plants possess. Having no central nerve system the crystal flora have no need for complex senses.

Size

Crystal Solar Tower was the tallest organism ever to live on Sagan 4.

The largest of the crystal flora is the Crystal Solar Tower. It grew up to be 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) tall. It was the second largest organism existing on Sagan IV, as well as the tallest.

Types of Crystal Flora

Extant

Marine crystals are the various most basal crystal flora still extant, which still resemble clusters of crystals like the original binucleus crystal shrub.

Diaminets are floating crystals which form net-like colonies.

Crystal shells are crystal flora which exist as the shell to an ancient branch of scuttlecrab.

Cellulosebanes constitute most living crystal flora on land. Truly monstrous bane-like forms still exist, but most living species are harmless.

Grovecrystals are harmless colonial cellulosebanes which sit on a segmented stalk. Many of them resemble trees and shrubs.

Swordgrasses are harmless colonial cellulosebanes which live similarly to grass, albeit mixotrophicly.

Ghost crystals are anatomically primitive crystals with no pigment which live in deep caverns.

Terrace crystals are an odd branch of ghost crystal which regained photosynthesis and live on land.

Korystals are mostly anatomically primitive crystals which do not photosynthesize, mostly living as decomposers.

Gigarystals are terrestrial korystals which are often relatively flat.

Pyamuses are ancient non-photosynthetic crystals which live as consumers in the sea.

Extinct

Succeeded