The Migratory Trees of Jannada
You expect me to believe all this? Next you're going to tell me about the people of Jannada and how they live in giant walking trees. I've heard that story, too, and I don't believe a word of that, either.The famed migratory trees of Jannada provide a home for many nomadic tribes, and play a central role in the lives and cultures of its people.
Walking trees are the largest known species of trees in Fillimet by both height and width, making their migratory behaviors and adaptations particularly impressive.
Upper CanopyThe main trunk of the tree extends straight to a height in excess of 200 ft, but rather than unbalancing the tree this height serves as a ballast. The top two thirds of the walking trees of Jannada contain a thick net of weaving leaf-covered vine-like branches which grow out and down while remaining fairly close to the trunk. These serve to centralize the weight of the tree, and provide a safe haven for the symbiotic Bigfoot Squirrel who make their homes within the migratory trees. The main trunk is also highly flexible, swaying with the wind or in response to ground tremors, helping the tree remain upright despite environmental conditions.
Lower CanopyThe lower canopy of the tree consists of a thick network of wide, surprisingly strong branches extending outwards and upwards from the trunk. In a fully mature tree these branches could extend a radius of 300 ft or larger. The branching lower canopy is where the core of the tree resides, as well as its center of balance. Many walking trees are also home to Jannadan cities, built to take advantage of the strength and migratory patterns of the wondrous trees. Here the branches serve as roadways from building to building, with additional structure and navigation provided by ropes constructed from weaving together portions of the tree's aerial root system.
UnderstoryBelow the thick lower canopy each walking tree has grown a twisting jungle of prop and aerial roots. Prop roots help support the canopy, growing downward from the branches and twisting around each other to form thick yet flexible secondary root columns. Aerial roots reach from the branches deep within the soil below, efficiently absorbing nutrients until the tree's migration pulls them from the soil. Aerial roots are longer and more agile than the prop or main root systems, allowing them to dart forward along the tree's path to set root again. At average speed an aerial root will require up to three days to locate a suitable location and an additional day to plant itself, allowing more than two weeks to gather nutrients before being uprooted again.
Root SystemThe root system of the walking tree rivals the lower canopy in diameter, radiating outward from the trunk in wide serpentine primary support roots. The tree has evolved to rely upon thicker roots in lesser quantities for the extra support but also to reduce the opportunities of the primary support roots with the aerial roots draped from the lower canopy. Towards the end each primary root splits into multiple secondary roots which serve to propel the tree along its path. Each secondary root will reach forward along the path, digging into the ground before contracting. The progress is slow and imperceptible to the untrained observer, but measurements have shown the trees are always moving. The bark beneath the walking tree is thick and tough, yet carefully jointed to allow the flexibility required for its journey. The Jannadan people have studied this arrangement of teinforced layers and adapted it for use in their own armor. The bark beneath the primary roots is worn smooth from constant friction. The secondary roots bear rough patterns to improve grip, the bark reinforced with metals drawn from the soil by the aerial roots. Unlike the rest of the tree, walking trees are constantly growing new root bark.
Genetics and Reproduction
The migrating trees rely upon bigfoot squirrels to pollinate and propagate. The trees actually produce two kinds of seeds, depending upon the season.
Spring and SummerDuring the spring and summer walking trees grow luscious fruits among the inner branches of its canopies. These serve to augment the diets of pregnant Bigfoot Squirrels, and later serve as sustenance for nursing mothers and their juvenile offspring as they keep close to the main trunk of the tree until the young have developed sufficient grip for navigating the outer branches. The seeds of these fruits reside within a thin but tough outer coating which is broken down by digestive juices. The squirrels' dropping assist in fertilizing the seeds.
Autumn and WinterDuring the autumn and winter months the migrating trees instead produce nuts along the outer branches of the canopy. These serve to sustain the tree's squirrel population during the lean seasons when there are fewer bugs to consume, and to attract squirrels in cases where the tree has not yet developed its own colony. The quantity of nuts produced helps the tree regulate the size of its squirrel population to maintain ideal levels for its needs. Only the nuts of well established walking trees produce viable seeds. Among younger walking trees the nuts serve only to attract and maintain the Bigfoot Squirrel colony.
Growth Rate & Stages
Walking trees are actually stationary for the majority of their first decade. They do have the capability to migrate to better growing conditions if their original growth site is unsatisfactory, but will otherwise conserve energy until they reach sufficient size to sustain a squirrel colony. Once the tree begins to migrate it will remain in constant motion until it approaches the end of its lifespan, at which point it will finally permanently root. From this point on the tree will gradually produce less fruits and nuts each year until its death.