Snail Tree

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About

Common Names
Snail Tree, Desert Coral
Classification
Woody, Tree
Description
Snail trees are medium height with a flat canopy, have tough dry light grey to white bark, and long needle like leaves growing in tufts. They form one third of a triple symbiotic relationship between the tree, shelled gastropods, and carnivorous carpet beetles.

Ecology

Rarity
Rare
Distribution
Sub-tropical savanna, scrubland, and hills.
Life Cycle
The trees reproduce via wind borne seeds, upon which the snails lay eggs on, to start anew. The carpet beetles drawn to the carrion such a tree produces, aerate and fertilize the soil helping the tree grow in otherwise poor conditions.
Symbiosis
The wide spread branches of the tree are covered in venomous snails with extremely long tethered retractable dart-like projectiles. These snail migrate out to the overhanging branches and slowly descend using their tethers like a rappelling line. Should an animal make contact with these descending snails they are quickly stung with mild paralytic venom. Multiple strikes may be required to induce total paralysis, depending on the mass and metabolism of the target. The snails then migrate back up the tree trunk and out onto the branches to repeat the dangling behaviour. The paralyzed prey then gets swarmed by the carpet beetles dwelling in the detritus and tuft at the tree's base. The beetle swarm quickly devours the still live prey, picking the bones clean and fertilizing the soil for the host tree. More prey is drawn to the smell of carrion, and a potential meal.

Uses

Cultivation
none
Culinary
none
Medicinal
paralytic poison (snail venom)
Other

Culture

Clever assassins in Waejir will place small clay pots under descending snails to capture them. These pots are then closed with a lid, and delivered to a target as a gift. When the small present is opened, the snails dart will fire out, paralyzing the victim. Attempts to extract the paralytic toxin have failed, as it quickly degrades into uselessness when removed from the snail.

Stories

See Also

Tree Snail
N'kar Beetle