Excoria and Radiofolia

With movement onto land came a rapid diversification for nereophytes. One of the dominant classes is Tensivolae, which exhibits a broad range of sizes, climate tolerances, and novel adaptations. The bauplan of these earlier species of Tensivolae consists of a central stalk with photosynthetic surfaces spread around it. In the taxonomic order Radiofolia, these surfaces are fully developed bladelike leaves resembling those found on Earth; in the more primitive species of order Excoria, however, the outermost layers peel outward from the central stalk to reveal fresh light-sensitive material. This variety reflects their robust nature and propensity for extreme adaptation.

Representative Genera:
Mangrome (aconsutus)

These broad, spacious organisms dominate the skylines of the sog basins' swamps. Beginning life as a stumpy red stalk, mangromes quickly grow skyward, reaching heights of more than four meters and tipped with a new seed pod every year. As they do so, the outermost layers curl outward and bifurcate, forming a rough dome of twisting, fibrous branches that, in most species, reach back down to the ground. The space within these branching blades serves as a shelter for many nereids, which may contribute to the ground's fertility or eat up branches that have died and fallen off.


Flakefir (eriocaulus)

The stately flakefir is uniquely suited for life in the ballerina forest. It takes in sunlight by peeling back the dead, woody outermost layers of its columnar trunk to reveal sensitive surfaces within. These cells eventually succumb to harsh elements, however, but as they die they also peel back, revealing fresh layers to carry out photosynthesis. As winter comes in, this process is arrested, protecting the sensitive inner layers within the trunk until things can warm up again. The snow of the season often breaks off the curls of deadwood so when things warm up again the flakefir is ready to continue its cycle.


Old Man's Ear (senexus)

As an epiphyte, the old man's ear has solved the problem of nutrient poor soil found in tropical lantern forests by growing directly from the surface of larger nereophytes and siphoning what it needs from them. A tight bouquet of broad, pinkish leaves wraps around a pale, whispy tuft of reproductive stalks; the whole arrangement reminded xenobotanists of hair growing from the ear of an old man, and the colloquialism stuck. In truth, the plant's shape has come about to trap rainwater and keep the central tuft moist, but nereids such as the guru find shelter inside it as well.



Ruby Yucca (erythrosiccus)

For most of the year, the ruby yucca is a golden tuft sparsely populating the Vacivus Desert. But the onset of brief rainy seasons trigger a transformation, and up sprouts a tall stem topped with the scarlet "topknot" that gives the ruby yucca its name. Once mature, the topknot explodes with seeds, scattering them on the wind to hopefully take root. Even the seeds swallowed by nereids have hope of future germination, and perhaps some advantage: seeds occasionally pass through a nereid only partially digested, and inside the moist belly of a beast they find protection from the harsh, dessicating forces of the desert.


Razorbush (colliensus)

Many nereophytes find survival in cooperation and symbiosis, but others, like the razorbush, have a more aggressive strategy. This denizen of the savanna has developed long tough blades that sprout from the ground and wildly sway in the wind. Each blade has a razor sharp edge that slices through neighboring vegetation, mowing down competition for resources and making room for succulent offspring to take root. These slashing blades are equally effective against nereozoa, who often think twice before feasting on the collection of tender young sprouts under every patch of razorbush.


Fleshette (carnorapius)

Carnivorous plants aren't new to xenobiologists, but rarely do they find one that uses projectiles to fell its prey. Primitive motion sensing structures guide the fleshette's aim until a hapless nereid come into range. The fleshette launches a volley of razor-sharp seeds by way of elastic egressor tissues, much like other tensivolae, but these seeds are coated with a toxin powerful enough to drop all but the largest nereids in moments, as well as speed the process of decomposition. Corpses litter the area around a fleshette, and long roots snake out to take advantage of the fresh nutrients. It's a gruesome sight indeed.