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PRF First Look

Flaska Reclinata

Big, weird, and extremely important to the Pandoran environment. Just don’t get too close.

At the Pandoran Research Foundation, there is little we love more than sharing information about the flora, fauna and geology of Pandora.  Discovery — along with preservation, education and citizen science activation — is at the heart of our mission.

So it’s with great pleasure that we share one of the strangest and most crucial botanical components of the Pandoran biosphere: the flaska reclinata.

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Larger Than Life

The first thing you’ll notice about this plant? It’s big — about it can be up to 7-8 meters tall, with up to 12 meters of spread from its base. And why measure from the base, when most large tree spread is calculated by measuring the longest point between branches? Because although this plant may resemble a tree in its overall size, it has no branches, and grows at an incline, buttressed by support roots. Picture a sea cucumber the size of a tree, and you’ll be in the neighborhood; then add long, spiny leaves to the top, and a thick distribution of green symbiotic plants covering the base like lichen. And as sturdy as the trunk looks, it’s also incredibly sensitive: when touched by a passing animal or human, the flaska reclinata will release a cloud of spores. The more it’s touched, the more spores are released. This, scientists believe, is the species’ primary form of self-perpetuation.

It is a true alien in our body of botanical knowledge. And this is just the beginning. Now for the inside of this incredible plant — which is mostly hollow. But you definitely wouldn’t want to venture inside.

Deadly Efficiency

We’re not just being cheeky when we compare the flaska reclinata to Earth’s sea cucumber. Much like a sea cucumber will process sediment, animal droppings, and decomposing plankton on the ocean floor, flaska performs a similar cleaning function with the atmosphere of Pandora. Like a mechanical air filter, it absorbs toxic gases from the atmosphere, right through its bark, and then distills the gas into a liquid that collects in the plant’s hollow interior.

Like a factory, the flaska reclinata works at this crucial act of atmospheric purification constantly. So much so that two very important things happen. First, the overall atmosphere of Pandora gets measurably cleaner: scientists have detected much lower airborne toxicity levels in regions with the plants than in those without.

The second thing that happens is that, over time, the toxic liquid collecting in the plant’s interior will become unstable, due either to changes in volume, temperature, or pressure. And like an erupting volcano, there’s only one way for the flaska reclinata to release that pressure. Without warning, it will spew a violent, heavy jet of the toxic liquid through the opening at its top, spraying the surrounding landscape — and any unfortunate creatures who happen to be in the way. For humans, getting doused by this toxic stew would be a guaranteed trip to the medic, so our advice is that as thrilling as it may sound to take your chances when exploring the jungles of Pandora, sightseers should always approach a flaska reclinata with an experienced field guide.

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