Today readers we get to learn about hornworts and what part they play in Laruel Wanrow’s new book Passages.
Hornworts…have you seen one? This simple plant is related to mosses and liverworts in a group called Bryophytes, and has been on earth since the Cretaceous period. Mosses are so common they are familiar. You may have run across the ribbon-like leaves of both hornworts and liverworts in a damp greenhouse, but identifying which is which is difficult. My find—not sure if it’s a hornwort or a liverwort—lives on the damp stones of the Patowmack Canal ruins in Great Falls National Park.
I’m enamored with these simple but long-lived plants, so they easily came to mind while I was searching for a problem plant for Passages. I did change a few things to create Aarde’s indigenous hornworts. Earth’s hornworts grow as wavy-edged and lobed thallus (primitive leaves) that anchor themselves to soil or rocks with root-like rhizoids, and extract their nutrients from water washing over them.
On Aarde, I made them thermophiles, able to live in the volcanic hot springs. I decided they would only enter their reproductive stage, the sporophyte stage, if the water nutrients were correct. (Actually, that’s true for most plants; wrong nutrients and they won’t grow.)
When a hornwort reproduces, it grows ‘horns,’ which is where the spores—the Bryophytes’ primitive seeds—grow.
Once the spores mature, the ‘horn’ dries and splits open, and the microscopic spores are plucked up by the wind and blown to new locations. Some of the spores have spiky outer coverings, like this liverwort.
Once I saw that image, I elaborated on it for my story, making the Aarde species’ spores tough and sharp enough to cut human lung tissue. And, voila, a volcanic planet with a killer plant growing out-of-control for my characters to combat.
Thank you to Dr. Christine Cargill and Cheryl Backhouse of the Australian National Botanic Gardens for permission to use these hornwort and liverwort images from the Australian Plant Image Index.
Follow the Passages Blog Tour (list below) to read more science & fantasy tidbits!
I opened one of the community notes, then the rest. What? Another two Zeffirites wanted to talk to me. I shoved the papers at Evard. “Look here. You haven’t been blabbing about the hornwort status, have you?”
He raised his hands. “Not me. They have their sources. We just…confer. Work talk.” But he studied the names, his frown growing. “Only half these people are my hires for the fungal project, and they know we’re well stockpiled to mitigate a spore release. It’s got to be some other complaint.”
I pinched my suddenly aching forehead. Zeffir was safe, far from the thermal areas where the hornworts grew, and our elders had emergency plans. So what was causing this level of community panic?
Evard blew out a breath and dropped into a chair at a monitor. “I’ll check the news, but I suspect it’s those bloody new ministers and their damned ‘don’t worry’ stance. That only promotes worry. And not just over the hornworts. I didn’t want to get your hopes up, but my hires plan to approach the Docga when they arrive in two weeks. They’re in a positive tizzy about that idiotic decision to transfer us—Great Grünmann, that’s it! The new protocol. Someone’s heard something.”
I groaned. “What could be worse than a transfer?”
“Find someone you can trust.”
For decades, Eve and her fellow electorgs—part human, part machine—have worked on the quiet planet of Aarde, beating back toxic spores that threaten to poison the native people. When the new commander halts work right before a deadly spore release, Eve frantically plots to protect the villagers she considers friends and family.
On the run after an ambush, Quinn holds a secret that nearly got him killed. If only he knew what it was. Though the attack scrambled his memories, Quinn is sure of one thing—he can’t trust the electorgs. But they know information he desperately needs to puzzle out who wants him dead, and why.
With the fate of life on Aarde in the balance, the logic of joining forces with Eve overrides Quinn’s fears…and erupts into an attraction that could prove fatal for both of them.
Because the planet’s commander might just be Quinn himself.
Passages is on preorder & sale for .99 through February 5th.
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Before kids, Laurel Wanrow studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower walks and answers calls about the snake that wandered into your garage. During a stint of homeschooling, she turned her writing skills to fiction to share her love of the land, magical characters and fantastical settings.
When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. Though they live on the East Coast, a cherished family cabin in the Colorado Rockies holds Laurel’s heart.
Find Laurel at:
Below are the bloggers participating in the Blog Tour for Passages. Each stop will have excerpts and tidbits about the science & fantasy, and a chance to win the tour prizes: a $10 Amazon eGC or a sign paperback of Passages. (Giveaway open to US/CAN)
Links will be active on the date listed.
Jan 27: Goudrogen Crystals on Jessica E. Subject’s Happily Ever Afters Across the Universe Click here to read.
Jan 29-31: Thermophiles on The Multiverses of Liza O’Connor Click here to read.
Jan 29: Author Interview with Mia Jo Celeste on Other World Diner Click here to read.
Jan 30: Moons and Rising Waters with Laurie A. Green on Spacefreighters Lounge Click here to read.
Jan 31: Creating a Character’s Home Planet—in a Red Dwarf Star System on Pippa Jay’s Adventures in Scifi Click here to read.
Jan 31: What kind of a book is it? With Kira Decker on Toni Decker Books Click here to read.
Jan 31: Lacuna, a Bit of Realism, a Bit of Magic on Author J. C. Nelson’s Urban Fantasy and More Click here to read.
Feb 1: Resolving your story problems…including knocking out a pesky spore? on Riley Moreland’s Whiskey With My Book Click here to read.
Feb 3: What do you think of when I say “cyborg”? on Veronica Scott’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Click here to read.
Feb 4: The Mystery of Transporters on Heather Massey’s The Galaxy Express Click here to read.