A sturdy cactus species inhabiting the Arotunon Wasteland.
The cactus is almost spherical with numerous ridges running down from its highest point. Said ridges are covered with bundles of long, thin needles. A widely spread network of roots reaches deep down into the sand and cracks in the underlying rock, anchoring the plant firmly to the ground. Its flowers usually have eight long, pointed petals and a set of four stamens.
Most mutrofo are of a pale green color. The ridges along the outer skin take on a reddish tint when the cactus slowly dries out. The flowers are generally of a deep orange with purple veins and bright yellow stamens.
Genetics and Reproduction
Following the heavy rainfalls of the Heat Season, the cacti sprout large flowers from the centers of the needle bundles. The nectar inside attracts countless small insects which then spread the pollen to other plants in the area. Afterwards, the flowers wither and bulbous offshoots start to form in their place. By the beginning of the next Heat Season, those offshoots are shaken loose by the groundquakes. They sprout roots as soon as the tremors end, anchoring themselves firmly to the ground before the rain clouds arrive.
Growth Rate & Stages
Outside the Heat Season, as the cactus uses up its water reserves, the inner tissue is transformed into a number of hard folds. When the rain starts to fall, the roots soak up the water, making the main body swell up. The outer layer eventually splits open and the folds expand. On average, the diameter of a middle-aged mutrofo grows by 12 centimeters per year.
Ecology and Habitats
Mutrofo naturally grow on the rock surfaces and sandy ground of the Arotunon Wasteland.
Dietary Needs and Habits
They require abundant light, but little in the way of nutrients. They mostly live off dead insects and the minerals found in the ground. Withered flower petals and the remains of old cacti are also absorbed.
Some Rilsu keep miniaturized subspecies as house plants. While their growth can be controlled by watering them sparingly throughout the whole year, this would also disrupt their reproductive cycle and prevent them from blooming. Therefore, most of these house plants are genetically engineered to remain small. They tend to sprout fewer, but notably larger flowers in proportion to the main body.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
These cacti were the primary source of water for the Zazaruo who used to live in the wasteland before the Final War. Young plants were often hollowed out to serve as portable containers. Their roots, in turn, were used to make fabrics for clothing and tents. The first step of processing the roots was to comb them over the needles to break the fibers apart.
Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms
Mutrofo require small flying insects to pollinate their flowers. These insects nest among the needles where they are safe from predators. The predators, usually medium-sized beetles, also target the cacti themselves when they are thirsty enough.
20 - 30 years
1.2 - 3.0 m by the end of their lives
800 - 12000 kg by the end of their lives
What do you think of this species? Does the growth cycle make sense this way?
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
I love the difference between wild and domesticated plants. :D They sound like a really interesting species, and its great that they are a source of water in the desert.
Thank you very much! ^^ Thinking of domesticated versions is fun, so I'm glad that you like their differences.
Creator of the Kaleidoscope System, an alien star system shaped by a colorful radiation source. My pledge for WorldEmber 2022 turned Worlduary 2023