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Flora
Mountains
3.57
7 Votes

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Hits: 3946
Comments: 14
Ideas: 0
Rating: 3.5714
Condition: Normal
ID: 4749

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Updated:
January 11, 2008, 5:49 pm

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Cheka Man

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Goldleaf

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Prized for the metallic sheen of the foliage, this peculiar plant dwells on the banks of mountain rivers, relying on heavy metals and photoelectric power to spread itself

Full Description

Goldleaf, also known as the Lightning Tree and Miser’s Burden, is an offshoot of the oak family, with a rust-red bark on the trunk and branches; the leaves are a rich green with faint traces of golden veins in the early seasons, but as autumn rolls around the green gives way as the golden hue spreads. In mid to late autumn, the trees often exude a scent of ozone; as the trees begin to shed their leaves, cracks and pops are often heard in the mountains as the dull red acorns are flung from the tree in small bursts of sparks, flying as far away as fifty feet before hitting the ground.

The first of the tree’s collquial names, Lightning Tree, stems from both these bursts of sparks during the late autumn and the way lightning strikes are drawn to the oaks due to their relatively high metal content.

The second name derives from the way the tree’s branches drop and sag in the autumn, giving the entire plant a hunched-over and joyless look as it glistens with golden leaves, much like a miser hoarding coins.

Additional Information

Goldleaf grows most readily in areas where the soil contains relatively high levels of iron and gold; thus the hardiest groves are found alongside streams in the mountains, and their presence is seen as evidence that a hopeful prospector is on the right track to strike it rich. The plants draw on the iron to strengthen their limbs and trunk, and to imbue the acorns with enough of the ferrous metal to respond to electrical charges; the gold is seen primarily in the autumn, as the tree’s leaves become natural photovoltaic panels, building an electrical charge within small nodules that the tree’s acorns hang from. When the charge passes the level that the heavily metallic nodes can contain, they discharge, creating a strong pulse of electromagnetic energy that hurls the nearest acorns away on wild arcs. Living creatures in contact with the tree as this happens are likely to receive a strong electrical shock, enough to stun a grown man.

The leaves are prized when they fall due to the concentrations of gold in them; while a single leaf contains only a tiny amount, the complete shedding of a tree’s leaves are sufficient to fetch a good price from any jeweler or alchemist who has need of gold. Mountain-dwelling races sometimes cultivate the trees as a result, burying pulverized gold ore in the groves and selling the resulting autumnal fall to the lowland races.

Goldleaf wood is also prized by those who know of the remarkably sturdiness of it; used as structural supports, it can ensure a building’s ability to remain standing where those crafted of a more common wood collapse, and the metallic density makes it a difficult material to burn. When it does, however, it tends to release toxic smoke, and the ashes often retain a burning heat for long hours after other materials have gone cold.



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Comments ( 14 )
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Voted Cheka Man
January 11, 2008, 20:50
0xp
I want one of those trees.
Kassil
January 12, 2008, 7:22
0xp
Just don't get in the way when acorn season is upon it. Their little iron-heavy nuts get fired off forcefully enough to fly in 50-foot-long arcs. That'd be a bit painful, to say nothing of accidentally being in contact with the tree when it fires them off being a very, very shocking experience.
Voted CaptainPenguin
January 11, 2008, 21:19
0xp
The only thing I noticed is the whole Goldleaf-farming operation seems like a waste to me. The effort of pulverizing a huge amount of gold ore, burying it, and then waiting for trees to grow in the soil with the ore seems like far too much when one could just take the gold ore one already has and melt it down or sell it.

But it's still a good submission!
Kassil
January 12, 2008, 7:14
0xp
I see the farming operation as being in line more for long-lived races who either don't have access to or won't use smelting to purify the gold for some reason or another; fae races who don't want to unleash toxic fumes, but who do want something to barter with seasonal traders might follow this pattern, for example. The leaves are a much higher purity of gold than most raw ore, as well, the better to be used to generate electrical current.
Voted Scrasamax
January 11, 2008, 22:27
0xp
Very nice, I can imagine that the mineral laden sap of the tree could be seen as a valuable spell component, or something like that. Very nicely done.
Kassil
January 12, 2008, 7:18
0xp
In regards to spellcasters, the tree's wood would probably also be in demand. Almost as hard as metal, but flexible in ways that iron isn't. It'd make an awesome staff, really, and probably be great as a base material for wands involved in spells of lightning and storm.
Voted valadaar
January 12, 2008, 13:54
0xp
I like this one. Does it have an origin of note?
Kassil
January 12, 2008, 17:01
0xp
I suppose it might, but while writing it the origin amounted to 'Nature throws up strange things'. It's a plant with a particular niche environment, probably one easier to find than some of the incredible niches that lifeforms on Earth have evolved to use; if the kind of mineral-rich environment it relies on ceases to exist, it'll likely go extinct.

On the other hand, it might spread as a rather sickly-looking oak until it finds new mineral-rich areas, when the 'pathetic scrub tree' breed suddenly becomes a robust specimen again.
Voted MoonHunter
January 15, 2008, 11:14
0xp
Actually it would just need a very minute trace of gold to make the sheen. So even if you collect all of the leaves that drop, the gold content would be small. (figure 10,000 leaves with .1mg per leaf, figure about a paper clip's worth of gold per tree).

Do the trees still grow without the gold in the area? Because after a few seasons, unless they are in a direct vein of gold, they will leach out all the gold in the soil. Do they die off or become something else?

(You can have most of these effects do not actually require the gold. Iron Pirate (fools gold) will be useful as well for these effects.)

Actually the electrical component might come from the quartz that actually found in gold and iron rich soil. Iron rich soil is an indicator, but not a strong one, of gold presence.

What keeps the moisture in and around the tree from either grounding it out or completing the circuit and negating the charge?

I really liked the tree until we got into the metal contents (which were implied, not required for the write up).

I attached this to the flora codex.
Kassil
January 28, 2008, 5:13
0xp
Presuming that a minor sheen is sufficient to set up a photovoltaic circuit, perhaps; but life is not known for being highly efficient on things that haven't spent a long, long time specializing.

Presuming that the environment in question is a perfect mirror of Earth as we know it (because we all know there's a dungeon over every hill with thousands of hefty pieces of gold, right?), then the tree will either go extinct or be a rather sickly-seeming tree, as I noted in response to Valadaar, above.

I would imagine that the oak is able to store an electrical charge in much the same way as an electric eel, which is known for dwelling in environments much heavier in ambient moisture than a tree dwelling in the mountains.
Voted Strolen
April 28, 2008, 20:21
0xp
Wait...did you hear that? There it is again.

All of a sudden they are under attack as small projectiles are being tossed at them for minor damage.

Fun idea. Use it like the Fire Swamp in The Princess Blind. Snap, fizzle - look out - POP.
Phaidros
December 20, 2011, 15:21
0xp
A very fun idea, not realistic, but perfect for a fantasy ecology. Eco-friendly elves might have created these trees as slow but green form of mining. Are there only gold leaves or are there related species for other metals? Silver willows, iron oaks, copper pines.....Or the mythical mithril mahony! These are probably the only trees stereotypical Dwarves are fond of.
Chaosmark
December 20, 2011, 16:17
1xp
Not realistic? You obviously haven't looked around at the insane things Evolution has produced on our world. Electric eels? Uranium-enriching bacteria? Nylon-eating Flavobacterium? Given a metal-rich environment, this tree makes perfect sense.
Voted Chaosmark
December 20, 2011, 16:19
0xp

This is what I'd probably call "active scenery", able to make the environment come alive and participate in a scene with the characters. As Strolen suggested, it'd make the perfect minor encounter.

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