Enclosures: “Ironwood” (2022)

A preamble on the enclosure backstories:

At what point is an organism classified as a plant or as a mineral? The flora of the super-Earth world Jessamine pushes the absolute edge of the definition of either. With just short of twice the surface gravity of Earth, Jessamine’s indigenous multicellular life forms already had enough of an issue with impending collapse, and then one of the world’s three natural satellites slid just a little close to Jessamine’s gravity well and shattered. For the past 10 million years, this little world on the rim of its galaxy boasts the most spectacular rings of any non-gas giant or or ice world so far surveyed, with most fragments therein having an incredibly high albedo due to reflective salts and ice crystals from the outgassing of the now-innermost moon’s internal salty ocean into space. Those rings, though, also make a far-from-exhausted source of meteors as ring particles’ orbits decay and the pieces rain down. Jesssamine’s atmosphere is extremely thick, with extremely high levels of carbon dioxide and water vapor giving it a haze that conceals surface features from orbit, so many pieces burn up before reaching the surface. Not all do, though, and combined with the sheer number of fragments, Jessamine is regularly swept with meteorite impacts, particularly when tidal interactions between its sun and moons cause literal meteorite showers across large portions of the planet.

Jessamine’s atmosphere is thick, but not so thick that photosynthesis is impossible, and the earliest plant life on its surface incorporated mineral supports for body cohesion, like the siliceous sponges of Earth. With the formation of the planet’s ring system, though, that evolution went into overdrive in an attempt to survive regular repeated meteorite storms, with the most popular tactic being an organic lattice armor-plated with transparent silicates and aluminates. The effect is to look upon a forest of metal, with leaf analogues and other strategies to increase surface area exposed to light more resembling ablative personnel armor, but at a gigantic scale, more than anything biological. The mineral compounds in those tissues themselves act more like life forms than standard grown crystals, with their using the organic components to transport trace elements throughout both individual plants and members of clusters. The armor plating exists mostly to protect the trunks and stems, covered with crystal vanes to catch the maximum amount of light possible, but also to prevent too many chunks from being knocked off during bad storms. Much like terrestrial plants, the plants of Jessamine can reproduce via broken pieces rooting in the ground, and the growth of a new plant can drain the available mineral supply of an existing individual or clump, to the point of all of them being too weak to withstand subsequent storms or gravity.

And the animals of Jessamine? These are widely distributed and very, very common. They’re also, to an individual, underground dwellers. This can be dangerous on a world with Jessamine’s gravity, but not as dangerous as being above ground.

Dimensions (width/height/depth): 18″ x 24″ x 18″ (45.72 cm x 60.96 cm x 45.72 cm)

Plant: Nepenthes bicalcarata

Construction: Glass enclosure. polystyrene foam, vacuum-formed plastic, found items.

Price: $400US

Shirt Price: $350US

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