Share
Grabgrass

Carnivorous plant-form native to most of the temperate and sub-tropical regions of Ridgewell

Grabgrass
Image from Steve Bowers
Although its name seems to be based on that of a Terran plant species generally considered undesirable by the culture of the time (late Atomic through Information Ages), grabgrass most closely resembles the most exemplary examples of the decorative grasses used around homes and public venues of the same era. Its actual form is that of a dark to medium green “blade” of plant material, growing to a height of 3-10cm in patches ranging from one to five meters across. Each blade of material is tipped with a large drop of sweet smelling and sticky sap, with many smaller droplets being exuded along the blade.

When an insect form lands on the grabgrass to consume the sap, it rapidly becomes stuck and is then gradually consumed by digestive enzymes in the liquid, usually dying of starvation or thirst early in the process. Larger lifeforms, including humans and equivalently sized species, are not threatened by grabgrass, although they may find it to be an annoyance since the sap will readily stick to both flesh and insufficiently smart clothing and the residue can be difficult to remove quickly without technological intervention. Falling plant matter and other detritus can cover grabgrass patches, starving them of light and food, but this is usually only a temporary setback as the starving plants first stop producing sap and then chemically denature what remains on their blades, releasing the covering layer which is then removed by wind and rain.

During the breeding season, grabgrass will mix reproductive spores into the sap of some blades while also altering the chemical structure to make the sap break down much more rapidly when out of contact with the grabgrass. When a larger lifeform comes into contact with the grass, sap sticks to it in the normal manner, carrying spores away to be dropped at distant locations when the sap eventually denatures and releases its hold. Some grabgrass species also use specialized organs to release spores into the air, or operate in symbiosis with certain species of animal or insect forms (who are immune to the sap or even consume it) to spread their spores in a manner similar to that seen among pollinating lifeforms on Earth and many other garden worlds.

Some notable sub-species are the deathpatch, whose sap secretions replicate the smell of decaying flesh and whose preferred prey consists of carrion eating insect analogs, and the wallhanger, which only grows on vertical or near vertical surfaces.

Grabgrass has been gengineered for use on other worlds, mainly as a method of protecting crops from insect (or equivalent) pests or reducing the population of a particular insect form if it has grown too large. In the Biopolity, several variants have been produced whose sap is harvested to produced different types of biological glue.
 
Related Articles
 
Appears in Topics
 
Development Notes
Text by Todd Drashner, Ryan B, and Mark Ryherd

Initially published on 25 October 2012.

 
 
>