The Hangleaf Kingdom

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It is the biochemistry that makes this a separate kingdom from the cellulose. The plants in the Hangleaf kingdom do produce wood, but there is a much simpler cell structure more akin to the Four Nucleotide evolution. The cells do have nuclei but little other internal structure, less than the cells of tentacloids, which have no nuclei. They formed colonial organisms while most other Six Nucleotide life was still evolving more complex cells. They were dominant on the sea's surface billions of years ago. This kingdom represents a separate evolution from single celled to multi-celled organisms. Three phyla are macroscopic.

Another distinguishing feature of this kingdom is that its forms are intrinsically ephemeral. They may last longer than trees on Earth, but not like the Archwoods or Shaftwoods of the cellulose kingdom where individual trees might be millions of years old.

The Hangleaves

These have a distinctive arching silhouette like an archwood, but instead of fronds all along the branches, their leaves are clumps of large, often limp, strands. Having leaves, flowers and fruits in clumps is a characteristic of this phylum. Many have twisted and lumpy bark or forms. Those that form wood often have swirling, knotted grain. The wood is often very resistant to rot and is second to shaftwood in its value as lumber, but makes poor firewood.

This phylum produces plants ranging in size from tundra moss up to the size of large trees. They are found in all climates, but their biggest adaptation is their ability to furl or retract their leaves for the dark. In most climates where a freeze is likely, hangleaves can completely retract their leaves. They also have the ability to grow in standing water and in very salty soil.

There is some housing grown from these plants. They are not as easily programmed as the archwoods, but because they can live in areas subject to frost and in the thicker atmosphere of the deeps, they are the only choice in some regions of the planet.

Some of the smaller species are important crops. The larorlie vine that is used to produce the cannabis-like drink called yaag is a member of this phylum, even though it does not retract its leaves. Several other bean vines are members of this phylum.

Many of the tree-like forms have a stem structure with a fixed number of divisions. A nullbreak has a single trunk and a single clump of leaves. Many resemble palm trees except the leaves almost always come from a single pod and are usually much limper and lighter than a palm. There are hundreds of species of nullbreaks in the average basin and they range in size from spagnum moss to royal palms. They are very well adapted to cold and grow in large numbers on the shores of the polar seas as well as the great lake in the Highlands.

The Unibreaks are those that divide the stem once and have two clumps of leaves. Many are mistaken for nullbreaks when they are young and have not reached their first division. There are classes of Dibreaks, Tribreaks and Quibreaks, but the largest trees are the Multibreaks that can divide their limbs as many times as necessary. Those hangleaves that are used as housing are only a few species from the multibreak class.

The Clawleaves

Picture of an old clawleaf tree

The clawleaves have a superficial resemblance to the hangleaves, but they do not have the ability to pull in their leaves for the dark and thus cannot grow in areas were frost is common. They usually have many, smaller branches, smaller leaves and more of them. But in the Trenst basin the classic spooky hangleaf look of the swamp is, more often than not, one of the greater clawleaves. Trenst has not known frost in the last billion years so almost the only true hangleaves in Trenst are the houses.

Clawleaves have the ability to grow with no soil at all and pull all their nutrients from the water. Thus they have grown much more common since the wildhull explosion and make up a great deal of the biomass in the floating swamps.

The clawleaves have not been modified to provide human housing, but are often felled for timber to use as cordwood. Their wood burns much better than that of the hangleaves. Their biochemical simplicity made them ideal candidates for re-programming, but their rough and brittle wood and often menacing profiles found little consumer acceptance.

The False Balloonleaves

When you see a forest with rays slanting thru it and a green mist hanging in the air, it is probably a dense drift of balloonleaves. If it is in an area not subject to frost, they are probably the true balloonleaves from the lonoid kingdom of the four nucleotide evolution. If it is in an area that is subject to frost, they are probably members of this phylum in the hangleaf kingdom.

These are actually colonies of single-celled plants that form small hollow balls that they fill with hydrogen to float in the air. They are as simple as the aeroplankton of Kinunde. They form the basis of the bagmouth food chain. In most cases it takes a microscope to tell if they are a member of this phylum and evolution, or one of the free-floating species in the lonoid kingdom of the Four Nucleotide evolution. In common speech, no one makes that distinction.

This phylum has not been genetically modified as aerial transportation. They are true plants with no nervous system at all instead of the insect-level nervous system of the large lonoids.

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