Splintering Plumbristle

The Frosty Plumbristle’s propensity to grow in poor soils has made the plumbo quite hardy in comparison to the more demanding Plumboak. Its adaptations for withstanding the brisk winters of southern Dingus are similarly beneficial when applied to the conditions of southern Dingus Scrub; namely, its evercyan needle-like fronds are just as effective in withstanding desiccation as they would with exposure to the cold, and sturdy plumbolignin serves likewise for its vascular tissue. It should not come as a surprise then, that some Frosty Plumbristle spores would not only end up there to viability, but refine their pre-adaptations to better suit these conditions, so much that these wayward stands would diverge into a distinct species - the Splintering Plumbristle.

Outwardly, the Splintering Plumbristle is not too removed from its ancestry, although a number of key adaptations have occurred. Its slate-blue needle-like leaves, already resistant to water loss, are now covered with a waxy coat, further staving off desiccation; this is also bolstered by their dense, clustering growth patterns, more reminiscent of a pine than the fir-like silhouette of its preceding stock. With water harder to come by in these warmer climates, this plumbo’s roots are somewhat wider and deeper as to take in as much rain- and groundwater as it could.

Splintering Plumbristle height is largely dependent on the local climatic conditions and access to resources. Many of the tallest of these plumbos are found in the rainier, savanna-woodland ecotones of Dingus Scrub, ascending to heights just shy of 11 meters. Conversely, stands found closer to Dingus Desert are stunted and wider than they are tall, attaining forms more conducive to conserving water. Despite their lack of height - most barely growing to 6 meters - these plumbristles are very long-lived, some notable individuals living to a few millennia.

As far as predators go, Splintering Plumbristles have few. While not much can immediately threaten an adult plumbristle, smaller saplings are at more risk as they would be easy browse for Liserlaps and Lawnmower Turdles, and with such tight access to resources, the energy cost is often too great to regrow tissues lost to browse. This is not to say that saplings are helpless however - their needles are laced with tannins that, although not toxic, are unpalatable to most fauna attempting to eat them, inducing a bold burning sensation. For certain predators attempting to eat into the bark (i.e. Nomchompers), the Splintering Plumbristle has developed another defense - derived from its own sap, it can secrete a sticky resin which can immobilize these intruders, making it much less tolerant of them than its arborescent extended kin in more plentiful climes.

Notably, the Splintering Plumbristle is named for the distinct form of its bark - a lattice-like configuration coming with flaky layers and in a coloration of diverse mauves and chocolate browns with purple undertones, reminiscent of the ponderosa pine of Earth. As these bark flakes fall onto the ground they are broken down by various detritophages as their constituent nutrients are returned to the soil. These plumbos can be considered keystone species in some communities within Dingus Scrub with their consistent sheddings, and areas where dense stands of them occur can be rather fecund. This means that not only can this flora establish itself in poor soil conditions, but also eventually alter it to become more fertile. Supporting countless more biota than the local environment would otherwise.

Following a period of notable rain, Splintering Plumbristles produce vivid golden flowers much like their ancestry. These flowers dupe nearby male canarflora into interaction, the males then carrying plumbristle gametes to a recipient flower, which will then form into diploid seed-like windborne spores. Upon settling into a suitable location, the spore becomes a sapling, and will become a mature flora in a matter of a few decades.