The Plant - a symbiotic way of living
In the south of Aleya, the year is dominated by a long dry period. For this reason, there are only a few plants here. The Earth Digger Cap, however, specializes in this condition. It has formed a symbiotic relationship with a medium-sized mammal, the Earth Digger, which plows the dry soil with its clawed talons, seeking out insects, worms, and water, which it captures with its 2 narrow long tongues.
The Earth Digger Cap germinates on the digger's back and anchors itself with the roots under its partner's leathery and insensitive epidermis. The fine roots enter the bloodstream, providing nutrients and water for the plant. At the same time, the plant strengthens the host's immune system by releasing antiseptic metabolic products that kill bacteria and fungal spores.
The plant forms up to 3 umbrella-shaped caps on a fleshy honeycomb-like structured stem with which it draws energy from the sun and at the same time provides shade for the Earth Digger. In addition, with its almost white surface, the plant repels predators of the Digger, which are blinded by the reflected sunlight. Additionally, the plants on the back make the animal appear larger and more threatening.
Once a year, at the beginning of the rainy season, the Earth Diggers meet for mating at one of the few water holes. This period is also used by the Cap to reproduce. At the same time, the two-year-old leaf caps of the plant form tiny blossoms on the upper side which colors the cap red and emit a scent that attracts insects, which can be found in abundance at the waterholes. These pollinate the plants, whose caps then curl up to form the seeds.
After only a few days, the capsules burst, spitting out small flying seeds. These are then carried by the wind to (hopefully) an Earth Digger, where they can sprout.
The nomadic people of this area benefit from these creatures in several ways: besides the tasty meat of the animals, they also use them to find water under the ground. In addition, the plant stores a considerable amount of water in its stem, which can be harvested and chewed to obtain the precious wet.
Biennial herbaceous plant
Habitat: South of Aleya (Nazar, New-Roshar)
Height of growth: 60-80cm (23-31 inches)
Diameter of the cap: up to 20cm (8 inches)
Stem: thickness up to 2cm (0,8 inches)