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Details:

A culture of dryads has a strange death tradition. When a dryad dies there's usually a medic, or better say a "shaman" that rips a strange looking organ or gland off their head. The gland, shiny and the size of a hand, is then grafted into a tree.

After several centuries the tree is able to finally release a fully grown child using only the gland from the old dead dryad and minerals from the ground. The dryad will have most of their memories intact after being reborn.

I'm not asking if this is realistic, or plausible. I'm asking if the "gland" or any organ can force the tree to get the needed minerals off the ground and slowly build a humanoid child over the course of centuries.

Why this question? I wanted to make dryads immortal while avoiding over overpopulation and other problems related to immortality by allowing them to die and come back as the same entity but younger after some centuries.

Question: Can humanoids be born (reborn) from a tree?

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    $\begingroup$ Very interesting storyline. Good job! $\endgroup$ – GiaFil7 Apr 23 '18 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ reminds me of the piggies in Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card $\endgroup$ – tox123 Apr 23 '18 at 22:59
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    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of the Amar Kabal ("seedpeople") in Beyonders by Brandon Mull. They have a seed in the back of their head that detaches when they die. When planted, they grow back, retaining their memories but reverting to the physical state they had on their first death (which is traditionally performed at age 20). $\endgroup$ – Challenger5 Apr 24 '18 at 4:27
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    $\begingroup$ I may be wrong, but can't we do things like graft orange tree branches to apples trees to have a single tree that produces both apples and oranges? If so, I see no reason why the same couldn't magically be applied to a dryad and a tree. $\endgroup$ – SGR Apr 24 '18 at 9:47
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    $\begingroup$ Hey, I want a Scarlett Johanson tree in my back yard. And if anyone dares create a Kardashian tree, I'm cutting it down. $\endgroup$ – tj1000 Apr 24 '18 at 17:41
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For various values of "dryad" this is entirely possible. Look into agrobacterium tumefaciens for inspiration. Those bacteria alter the DNA of their host plant to create a tumorous growth. Look into gall wasps for an example of induced growth that has to do with growth vectors/plant hormones and possibly RNA/DNA viruses - this growth is much more structured than that effected by agrobacterium. So inducing a plant to grow some new organ, that is fed and protected by the plant, while inside a new dryad ripens - absolutely possible.

It would need some genetic vector (see the bacterium, but also many viruses), some chemical coaxing (which could easily be done by an entity as big as a hand) and the plant would be clay, waiting to be shaped.

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    $\begingroup$ Gall wasps always freaked me out. It’s like God decoded that all the existing wasps weren’t enough and tried to make them capable of genetic modification... $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Apr 24 '18 at 6:18
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    $\begingroup$ The fun thing on this site is that no matter how far-fetched some questions seem to be, often there is an answer among the lines of "sure, something very similar already exists in real life" $\endgroup$ – vsz Apr 24 '18 at 6:20
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    $\begingroup$ And then just to make it worse added on some wasps that parasitise the gall wasp larvae. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Apr 24 '18 at 6:21
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    $\begingroup$ what about the memories ? $\endgroup$ – GlorfSf Apr 24 '18 at 7:28
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    $\begingroup$ @GlorfSf if the hand-sized organ or gland is actually part of the brain - say, the part that stores the memories - and is simply used as the same part of the new dryad, it would seem quite workable :) $\endgroup$ – Syndic Apr 24 '18 at 8:47
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Sure...

One would assume that the symbiotic relationship between dryad and tree evolved (or was magically/divinely created) that way. Therefore, it's not just any tree this will work with, but a specific tree. This is actually a good thing for your story because limited resources are always useful as crisis-creators during the story.

Given that the symbiotic relationship exists, the tree's genetics are wired to react to the presence of the gland. One could say the gland injects a protein into the tree to trigger the genetic response.

At that point, the tree starts drawing nutrients as it always does, both from the ground and from sunlight (very appropriate for a dryad). The gland metamorphosises into a cocoon, which in turn metamorphosises into a new dryad. This is also useful to your story as the dryads likely have a hereditary disposition to defend/protect the cocoons.

In the due course of time, the cocoon unwraps to release a newborn dryad and then falls like any other leaf.

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