Plant Life on Land on Shalimar


     When the survey team arrived on Shalimar, the land was covered with vegetation, mostly rain forests and thick jungle. We have worked out a scenario about how plants began to grow on land, but have not had time yet to trace the evolution of the huge variety of plants that we see on land today. We must therefore limit ourselves to descriptions of what we observe.

 

The Jungles

     The tropical areas of Shalimar are covered with thick jungles. The ground is covered with sturdy moss-like plants and other little plants with grass-like blades or small leaves. Tall, reed-like plants spring up from this green carpet, forming dense thickets. Vine-like runners cover rocks and fallen plants.

     Shalimar has one and a half times the gravity of earth, and strong winds. Perhaps this is why many of the larger plants are formed of a series of hollow tubes, rather like bamboo on earth. The light, flexible stems bend in the storms, and growth is rapid in the warm weather. Instead of leaves, these plants have slender, green, thread-like growths hanging down from the nodes where the sections of the central tubes join. These threads are greenish, and their cells engage in photosynthesis. They may also have some limited ability to absorb water from the frequent showers. Although these threads look fragile, they offer little resistance to the wind. In some varieties of plants the threads are fibrous and quite tough.

     Land plants on Shalimar do not have flowers, and continue to form zoospores in the roots much as water plants do. However, the spores are not disseminated on land as they are in water. Many plants grow short, rather sweet-tasting spikes from their roots that contain zoospores from their roots. When animals eat the plants the tough zoospores pass through their digestive tracts and fall somewhere away from the parent plant. This seems to work out well. When plants are thriving they send up these shoots: in difficult times they leave their spores in the ground where they can replace the parent plant if it should die.

 

The Rain Forests

     Moving northward or southward from the equator, we found cooler temperatures as we moved towards the poles. The plants here do not grow rapidly, and form dense, rather gloomy rain forests. Again the taller plants tend to be vertical, with short branches that stay close to the central stalk. The ground is covered with short, delicate leaves and sturdy carpet mosses. Many of these plants are adapted to growing in a very wet environment.



© Elizabeth Anne Viau, 1996. This material may be used freely for instructional purposes but not sold for a price beyond the cost of reproduction. Please e-mail me at eviau@earthlink.net if you use this material. I'd be interested to know how it works for you!