Plants are organisms capable of chlorophyll based photosynthesis process. This ability emerged with rise of cyanobacteria, and is defining plant factor ever since. Photosynthesis uses photons to allow conversion of energy required for organism reproduction sourced from compounds found in air and ground that plant gets attached to (by root system for complex plants). Plants reproduce using seeds and spores, but can be also artificially grown from cuttings taken of growing specimens.
Plants reproductive cycle length and it's lifespan depends on tissue type and plant size. Small, hollow tissue plants have shortest lifespan, while largest hardwood trees can outlive some animal species. Hollow tissue plants don't spawn seeds, and reproduce using spores instead.
In Creatura, there are 25 plant characteristics, expressed by each plant node genotype. The genotype can differ for each node in every plant, as the plant mutates growing new nodes. Besides plant structure, every node type scale, shape, color and shade is defined by it's own codon. Plant tissue type, herbicide resistance and rarity are also controlled by unique codons.
Every plant consists of nodes that can be cut off. Each node has it's own, unique genome, mutated and passed to further nodes as the plant grows. While simple plants like algae and grass are single node only, more complex species, like bushes and trees, can have up to 720 nodes. Nodes can be of stalk, leaf or fruit/flower type. Type of node defines it's behaviour, and expressed genotype parts of genome.Nodes grow in structure defined by genotype. Plant structure is described by four main characteristics: consecutive nodes limit, nodes multiplier, branch limit and ability to flower/fruit. Every node can randomly mutate DNA part expressing those characteristic, resulting in structural mutation.
Basic node type for single and multi node plants, is a stalk. Every first node in any plant is always a stalk. Stalks in simple, single node plants take wider, more undefined shape, and multiple stalks of grass are accounted as single, stalk plant node. In more complex, multi-node plants, stalk is the only part of plant capable of growing more nodes.Stalk nodes have always either coarse, spiked, or smooth shape. Codons used to describe color and shade expression depend on plant node tissue.
Leaf node is a termination type node, grown when node is not capable of growing more nodes. High surface area allows efficient photosynthesis process, and is used by animals as a reliable and nutritious food source.
Shape of leaf is defined by two codons. First defines leaf complexity, ranging from simple stubs, to fern and pine-like nodes, second the expression of leaf shape (coarse, spiked or smooth). Complex leafs are also using third codon, to define leaf geometrical shape. This characteristic is not expressed in any other leaf kind.
Soft and hard tissue plants are capable of emerging flowering nodes by mutating. This special kind of termination node grows along leafs, and can be used for cross-pollination. Every flower/fruit node consists of two sub-nodes: sub stalk node, and the main, flowering node. Not all flowering nodes are capable of turning into fruits, and further mutation is required for fruit nodes to emerge. Flowers and fruits are considered as top-tier food source for many herbivorous animal species.
Flowers have 6 unique shapes, with 6 corresponding fruit shapes. Fruit scale, color and shade expression is controlled by same codons as flower characteristics.
Plant orders define genome compatibility between species. While some structural mutations are allowed across same order (like consecutive node limit mutation), most will result in new plant order emerging. Orders can consist of any numbers of species. When describing orders, a postfix or prefix might be used.
Algae & Monocots
The first plants to emerge complex cellular structure from cyanobacteria. Algae will always grow hollow tissue, underwater single-node structures, while monocots are also land based soft/hard tissue plants.
Grass & Reeds
Single-node grass is land equivalent of algae. Multi-node, single branch, soft and hard tissue plants are classified as reeds.
Moss & Clovers
Plants that grow only one stalk node, but have also other nodes, are described as mosses and clovers, depending on leaf type.
Seaweed & Marshwoods
Any stub leafed, tall growing plant will be part of seaweed or marshwood order, depending on plants consecutive node limit.
Lichens & Thorns
Lichens and thorns are equivalents of seaweeds and marshwoods, but with simple leafs instead of leaf stubs.
Almost all complex leaf plants are part of nightshade order, making it the most dominant, and one of most important plant orders on planet.
Plants with fern-like leaf type are classified as ferns.
If plant leaf structure is replaced by pines, plant order will be called as such.
Prefixes & postfixes
Some structural characteristics are described in order pre/postfixes. If plant root genotype expresses ability to flower or fruit, the order will gain "Fruiting"/"Flowering" prefix. Every plant with branching limit of 2 or 3 will gain "Bush" or "Tree" postfix respectively. Prefixes and postfixes do not affect genome compatibility, and are considered technically as still same order.
Reproduction & Mutations
After plant stops growing and reaches maturity, it spawns seed containing genotype from plant root, not genotype of node that spawned the seed. This mechanism stops plant natural genetic drift and any natural selection adaptation process, but allows much more fine control over vivarium flora. Seed genotype can be affected by injecting it with condensed mutagens and carcinogens, altering resulting plant root DNA with random coding mutations. Plant can be also reproduced by cuttings. Cuttings always contain genotype of node from where the cutting has been cut from, and resulting plant root DNA will contain mutations from cut nodes.
Plant specimens can randomly grow into rare or unique versions of the species. Rare plants are characterized by special visual pattern visible on each plant node. Patterns of unique rarity are animated. Plant rarity is defined on root spawning - if at least 10 coding codons from plant root genotype match exactly randomly generated genome, the plant is defined as rare, with small random chance to become unique. Genome to match is generated uniquely, each time new plant root spawns.
Plant rarity is not passed down to cuttings, so any cutting taken from any node of rare plant will not retain the original rarity, unless the cutting is taken at very root of the plant. Cuttings taken at plant root and all plants grown by natural reproduction cycle will retain original plant rarity indefinitely, once original plant randomly mutates.
When plant spawns new seed, a seeding position is defined within seed range (from original plant planting position). This characteristic is passed down in genotype, but has no chance for random mutation. Seeding position depends only on original planting position, and isn't influenced anymore by further seeding positions to avoid plants position drift too far from original planting center.
Plant seeding range can be modified by changing corresponding codon value in genome, or by holding SHIFT button and using mouse scroll up/down while moving growing plant/plant cutting. Seeding range is represented under held growing plant/plant cutting as cascading round lines, with the furthest circle representing maximum seeding range for this specimen, and all plants directly descending in natural reproduction from this plant. Lowest possible seeding range is 0, resulting in plant seed always spawning in exactly same point as parent plant root.
Some chemical compounds can be used as herbicides, to decimate plants living in herbicide area of effect. This effect can be however negated by plants with natural resistance to such compounds. Plants herbicide resistance varies naturally, and specimens with genotype expressing higher resistance can be found by artificial selection by mass use of herbicide, across many specimens of same species in close proximity, or by direct genome manipulation of codon responsible for herbicide resistance.
Plant herbicide resistance is not binary, but gradual - with higher resistance corresponding to lower probability of plant being affected by herbicide.
Fruiting and flowering plants can be cross-pollinated. Cross-pollination scrambles genome of pollinating and pollinated plants, allowing for controlled species reproduction. To cross-pollinate plant, use brush to take sample of pollen from flower/fruit of pollinating specimen, and use the brush on flower/fruit of pollinated plant. Seed spawned by pollinated plant will contain randomly scrambled genotype of both plants. Pollen collected on brush can be used once.