Episode Description: This week’s episode is about an island that walks like a man and the largest organism by mass on the planet.
Prefer to listen to the episode? Links below!
Follow on social media!
-Intro music “Age of Technology” by DP Music fades in-
Welcome back to Stories Plantarum, the podcast all about fabulous fantastical plants from sci-fi and fantasy and real-life plants that seem out of this world. I’m your host Rebecca Hayes, and today we’re discussing an island that walks like a man and a tree that makes up an entire forest.
-“Age of Technology” fades out, “Tropical” by Dwarf Johannsson fades up-
Let’s dig in to stories plantarum, Episode 3: Hidden Giants.
-“Tropical” fades into background-
For this story, we’re travelling to a fictional island in the South Pacific region of the X-Men Marvel Universe. In 1945, the United States military tested a nuclear bomb by dropping it onto this island, called Krakoa. Nuclear radiation from the blast caused the island to mutate, resulting in all of the plants, animals, and landforms on the island merging together into one super-sized sentient being.
Charles Xavier, also known as Professor X, detects the presence of a powerful mutant on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He sends a team of X-Men to investigate the island, however weeks pass and they never return home. Xavier sends a second team to rescue the missing mutants, and upon arriving to the island they were attacked by tentacle-like vines, angry birds, giant crabby crabs, and boulders that chased them across the island.
When the rescue team finds the missing X-Men, tremors quake through the island as it rises out of the sea and the X-Men realize that the mutant they were searching for was the island itself.
-“Tropical” dramatically fades up then back into background-
Krakoa feeds on the power of other mutants to survive, so he wasn’t too keen on freeing his prisoners. The X-Men used Storm’s powers to shoot a bolt of lightning down at Polaris who was able to use her magnetic abilities to disrupt the magnetic field around the island and launch it into space.
Unfortunately for Krakoa, if his existence wasn’t already unfortunate enough, he survives the ascent out of the earth’s atmosphere where he is picked up by an alien scientist called The Stranger and imprisoned to allow closer study of the island that walks like a man.
-“Tropical” fades up and into “Tropical Sunrise” by Podington Bear-
Although our next plant does not walk like a man, it is the size of an island.
-“Tropical Sunrise” fades into background-
Hiding in plain sight in Utah’s Fish Lake National Forest is the largest organism by mass on the planet. Coming in at a whopping 13 million pounds is Pando the Quaking Aspen. Pando is Latin for “I spread”, and that’s exactly what Pando has done over the last 80,000 years.
Quaking aspens can reproduce clonally by sending up shoots that share a root system underground. Pando is the name of the root system and the 47,000 genetically identical aspen trees that sprout from it.
Aspens lose their leaves in the winter in a dazzling display that begins with entire mountainsides of aspen leaves changing from dark green to brilliant yellow on the same day.
They have white papery bark that conceals a thin, green layer that allows aspens to photosynthesize even after they lose their leaves in the winter.
Pando is still the largest organism by mass on the planet, however it has not been regenerating at a sustainable rate due to overbrowsing by mule deer for the last 30-40 years.
-“Tropical Sunrise” ends-
Oh deer, indeed.
-outro “Business Talk” by DP Music fades in-
Alright, that’s all I have for this episode of Stories Plantarum. If you enjoyed the show, please rate, comment, and subscribe on iTunes, it helps other people find the show. Follow us on twitter @PlantarumPod and facebook.com/PlantarumPod, feel free to reach out with any feedback or suggestions for future episodes. You can also find infographics about each episode there. I’ll be back next episode with more tales from the weird and wacky world of plants.
Stories Plantarum is written and produced by me, Rebecca Hayes. Intro music is “Age of Technology” by DP music, and outro music is “Business Talk” by DP Music. Also featured are “Tropical” by Dwarf Johannsson and “Tropical Sunrise” by Podington Bear on the Free Music Archive. The source material for Krakoa is the X-Men comic book series. Krakoa first appeared in Giant Size X-Men Vol 1 #1 in 1975 and was created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. Background information on Krakoa was compiled from the Marvel Database wiki, the X-Men wiki, and the biography written by UncannyXmen.net contributor Monolith. Pando background information was compiled from the USDA Plant guide to Quaking Aspens, Bryce Canyon National Park’s page on Quaking Aspens, an article by Brigit Katz in Smithsonian titled “Pando, One of the World’s Largest Organisms, Is Dying.” And a ScienceFriday article by Chau Tu titled “Earth’s biggest living thing might be a tree with thousands of clones”.
-“Business Talk” fades out to end-
Bryce, Mailing Address: P. O. Box 640201, and UT 84764 Phone:834-5322 Contact Us. “Quaking Aspen – Bryce Canyon National Park (U.S. National Park Service).” Accessed July 6, 2019. https://www.nps.gov/brca/learn/nature/quakingaspen.htm.
“Earth’s Biggest Living Thing Might Be a Tree with Thousands of Clones.” Public Radio International. Accessed July 6, 2019. https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-05-05/earths-biggest-living-thing-might-be-tree-thousands-clones.
Katz, Brigit. “Pando, One of the World’s Largest Organisms, Is Dying.” Smithsonian. Accessed July 6, 2019. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/pano-one-worlds-largest-organisms-dying-180970579/.
“Krakoa.” X-Men Wiki. Accessed July 6, 2019. https://x-men.fandom.com/wiki/Krakoa.
“KRAKOA | Uncannyxmen.Net.” Accessed July 6, 2019. https://uncannyxmen.net/characters/krakoa/biography.
“Krakoa (Earth-616).” Marvel Database. Accessed July 6, 2019. https://marvel.fandom.com/wiki/Krakoa_(Earth-616).
“USDA Plant Guide: Quaking Aspen,” n.d. https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_potr5.pdf.