Thrive Talk: Plantoid Species

Been meaning to delve into this topic for awhile. I don’t remember any previous discussions we had on plantoidal / fungoidal species, so I’ll just write it here.

If a race were to be a plant-like being, or some sort of sentient fungus, what would their civilizations look like? How would they do with technology and space?

Yeah there is already one

I found these two threads. If there is more, please link.

For some reason, the thread was bumped, hmmm…


Was it just a spammer who tried to steal my precious necro?

It already exists

Here is where we discuss the possibility an plausibility of plant Civilizations, and how long we can get away with them before they are no longer plants.

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I’ll start, so, plants aren’t exactly good at thinking moving and using tools, so, how can we fix that while still being able to classify our being as a plant? Odviously their civilization will be wildly different than ours, so, we’ll have to account for that.

Step one, creation of necessary materials/movement.
So, this is a big problem for sure, but, how do we address it, well, there is nothing in the definition of a plant that says it can’t move, and there are some examples of plants moving in real life, like many of the fly trap plants and one plant I do not remember the name of right now, while they cannot move from the spot, they can still move, and a quick modification and they can move with porpoise besides survival instinct.

The next thing we need to cover is the nervous system problem. Well it’s not that much of a problem, plants already have a chemical nervous system, and if we make it intricate enough, it starts to look something like a brain

Communication? Plants already do that, and in a hundred different ways; electrical signals through the ground, pheromones, that’s all I can think of right now,
Some plants can even communicate across species with some bugs, warning them that there is an an attacker nearby and that they must defend the plant.
That’s all I can think of right now, but let me know if you come up with something.

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There’s a subreddit that has been made to discuss plant/underwater civilizations. You might want to move this discussion over there instead, as discussion of underwater civs has been banned on the forums, this topic may be banned too. I hope this helped!

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I don’t use reddit. The one time in my life that I did was for r/place.

You might have to make an/use an old account to discuss plant civs, sadly. It could be quite a pain if this thread became quite popular, only to be banned like the underwater civ threads. I don’t think there’s any rules against discussion of plant civs at the moment, but it unfortunately might only be a matter of time.

Plants cant sustain a brain smart enough

There were already like 2 or 3 threads made for discussing this as far as i know

Its not banned yet, so lets try to keep arguments to a minimum.

So I was thinking about plant civs for quite a long time, and this is what I came up with, please point out any flaws:

The creature is a 6 legged manta ray-like thing which is extremly thin and uses photosynthesis to get most of its energy, the rest comes from eating, although it has a very small stomach, it mostly eats hydrogen producing algae which eventually becomes part of its genes, its stomach than splits off in to two at the ends of its “wings”, its stomachs being able to produce hydrogen it is able to become wider than usual, making eating unnecessary, the whole time its brain gets larger to, and along with that its “stomachs” (which are now just hydrogen bladders) become large enough that it can dive deep down, fill its hydrogen bladders, and than shoot up in to the air and start flying through small flaps of its wings. Eventually flying predators start to hunt them, and one of the photosynthesising rays sees one die in a forest fire, so to stop itself from being hunted, it tries to harness fire, eventually one figures out how to make it, and they start using torches to hunt the predators, scaring the smart ones off that didn’t die, now that their safe they start trying to form a larger colony, when they eventually settle, make basic handaxes and make a house…

Oh and heres a drawing:

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Well, now there’s a fourth. Here we go!

I think plant civs are unlikely. I’m of the pretty uncontroversial opinion that photosynthesis does not provide enough energy for an active lifestyle, though I’m happy to be proven wrong with math.

I think the biggest barrier is motility. Plants don’t move around much. They don’t need to. There are a few scenarios where it’s conceivable that ambulatory plants could arise, but I feel like they’re unlikely. Remember that, in any scenario, plants will be trying to move from a completely sessile lifestyle to one of any number of niches already occupied by animals, which is a long road.

Rainforest floor
Carnivorous plants on Earth today are photosynthesizers first and foremost. They get their energy from the sun and only eat to supplement nutrient-poor soil. It’s pretty clear which strategy they prefer since they will opt to make leaves instead of traps if given proper nutrients.

If, however, carnivorous plants found themselves at the mouth of a cave, or a particularly cloudy climate, or the floor of a large rainforest (which also tend to be nutrient-poor), I could maybe imagine that there could be pressure to develop a totally heterotrophic diet. There are, in fact, parasitic jungle plants that don’t photosynthesize, so with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, maybe you could get IRL piranha plants.

Alternatively, perhaps parasitic plants develop a symbiotic relationship with the trees above. They eat the fruit that falls for a little while, move when the topsoil becomes depleted, and take root somewhere new and spread the seeds along the way. Although, this is already done better by animals who, additionally, leave nutrients in the soil instead of taking them.

Seasonal polar predators
Depending on your planet’s axial tilt, the poles will likely have months of uninterrupted sun followed by months of darkness. Assuming that the climate is amenable to warm poles, I can imagine that plants could spend summer building energy reserves and then using those for a brief period during the winter to uproot and hunt hibernating animals and other plants.

Problem is… why would they? Is the soil so poor that it’s worth wasting energy hunting instead of just directing it to reproduction? Might as well just uproot and find a better spot if that’s the case.

Another problem is that such big energy reserves are tempting meals for animals. Those plants are likely to get eaten before they get the chance to eat anything else.

Plant, but roots move to gain more nutrients

I would love to hear feedback on my post (unless theres no flaws, which would mean plant civs can exist).

I’m really wary about anything that floats on hydrogen bladders. Balloon creatures are so cool in concept, but the lifting power of H2 is actually kind of underwhelming.

There are a few blog posts (which are now 10 years old?!) where a guy talks in depth (with pictures) about the physics of balloons and what it means for floating animals, which he calls “ballonts”. This one covers most of it, and this one is a follow-up that deals with gas giants specifically. There are a couple more, but these two have the most important bits.

I really recommend reading them as they’re really interesting, but the TL;DR is what none of us want to hear: lifting any significant amount of mass requires unreasonably large balloons. At Earth-like conditions, assuming your balloon is spherical and has a thin membrane of non-living material, you need a hydrogen balloon with a volume of 1 m3, with a diameter of 124 cm (4 ft), to lift a body mass of 0.53 kg (roughly 1.2 lbs).

Paradoxically, because the volume and buoyancy of the balloon scales faster than the weight of the membrane, bigger is better. Too small and you can’t even get off the ground (although you would have the benefit of being pushed around by air currents).

Your creature has wings, which I guess helps a bit, but I would separate them from the bladders. They should be as light and thin as possible. So, more like a really fat butterfly than a manta ray.

I can’t speak to the feasibility of your creatures’ path to sapience. I just don’t know much about the evolution of intelligence, sorry.

EDIT: As an aside, it’s interesting that you and I imagined opposite versions of “plants”. I was thinking a plant that lost the ability to photosynthesize, effectively becoming an animal; you seemed to be thinking of an animal that gained photosynthesis. I don’t think either is wrong, I just think it’s funny.

I was looking in to how much hydrogen it would need before, and I did notice just how much, but the weight of a human brain is 3 pounds, and half of that seems viable considering how inefficiently humans use theirs, I put the hydrogen bladders on the wings because the wings aren’t that strong on their own, so they can use the hydrogen bladders to also help lift their wings up when flapping.
Edit: I forgot to mention that the image is 3.5x3.5 meters, so the hydrogen bladders seem reasonably sized.

perhaps a moving plant would evolve on a world where the sun set quickly and there were lots of shadows of taller lifeforms, making the spices evolve to get as much sun as possible

if plant can do photosynthesis and it is enough for it to live, then there is no evolutionary pressure to evolve legs. but if photosynthesis isn’t enough, evolving legs is a big step which might take long time to evolve, and it will also take alot of energy to use them. Plant will then need evolve something to actually exploit fact that it can now be mobile (also takes time to evolve).
It could also improve photosynthesis by bigger leaves👍

edit: or extinct