Glass-on-a-Stick

From 2speccers2tools wiki

Oofle is not a continent known for its floral diversity; despite being one of the earliest-”established” of the biogeographic kingdoms, the variation of its more baseline biota is disturbingly sparse, contributing to severely top-heavy trophic succession. There however lies ample opportunity for new organisms to fill these glaring gaps in the region’s ecologies, hopefully soon enough to stave off an ecological collapse. The Glass-on-a-Stick is one such genus which has recently arisen to occupy such vacancies, cementing their role as small, hardy, weed-like flora. The most immediately obvious feature of note is the Glass-on-a-Stick’s stem. Derived from tightly bundled root tissue, this organ hoists the flora’s photosynthetic pane above the ground - a first for its taxonomic division. To support itself above ground and the pane, this stem is reinforced with a sturdy polysaccharide referred to as invisibilin II (not structurally related with the pigment invisibilin, incidentally also used by glassflora) present within its cells’ walls. The stem’s shape provides further support for its pane, possessing a somewhat wide base to ensure it doesn't easily topple over by outside forces. Nourishing both the stem and the pane are the roots, from which water and nutrients are ferried into its tissues via a vascular network. Under select lighting conditions, the fine veins in the pane of a Glass-on-a-Stick can be subtly illuminated.

Numbering in the dozens, species of Glass-on-a-Stick can be found all throughout the more humid climes of Oofle, thriving on much less than larger flora. Species in cooler climes tend to have stouter stems and narrower panes. Those found in shadier areas such as forest floors typically bear the widest panes as to maximize photosynthetic potential. Predictably, species grow most readily on soils bearing considerable silicate content, as such material is required to maintain its photosynthetic pane. Due to its composition, the pane is presently unpalatable to most endemic herbivores. As Glasses-on-a-Stick are a taxon of small flora, they are prone to being crushed underfoot by passing megafauna; depending on local resource access, the pane may take a couple of weeks to regrow. As Glasses-on-a-Stick are diazotrophs, they also play a crucial role in the Ooflian nitrogen cycle by sequestering atmospheric nitrogen directly and converting the stuff into more usable material. This makes most species considered pioneer flora, finely able to settle into disturbed or bereft lands and contributing to the development of a soil community - again, should the local geology contain sufficient silicates.

Of course, the Glasses-on-a-Stick could only have attained such diversity via the recombination of genetic material made possible by sexual reproduction. Below the pane are sporangia which contain haploid gametes, and later, diploid spores - both of which are airborne. When a gamete meets with a recipient in another flora’s sporangium, they conjugate, forming a spore. While spores are typically distributed via the wind, sometimes these will also hitchhike on fauna and then similarly drop off in a suitable location. Spores can often be spread quite far from their parents via both vectors. Provided enough space and resources, these flora can also bud clones from runners, often culminating in some surfaces being carpeted in small glassy baubles.

Unique to all glassflora, Glasses-on-a-Stick can manufacture sugars via a photosynthetic compound known as invisibilin, giving their panes their distinct transparency.