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This question's information is based on the answer in my previous question about what the aquatic creature need in order to live or survive in my acid water?

The thing that's not in the description is my sun is not strong. It doesn't generate much light or heat due to the cold climate, something like a taiga forest. Hence, I don't think a plant design entirely covered by a proton pump, which requires a lot of energy, would be a good solution.

I want to know what would silicone plants, especially trees, look like and can they still use photosynthesis or do they require different chemicals or methods? (I don't have knowledge about chemistry, so if the answer is actually obvious or I get something wrong, I'm sorry.)

My plants (including trees) have an aquatic plant type, either plain water or salt water (all of this is acid water, based on my previous question description) like kelp, lotus, and flowing on the water surface like water hyacinth. For trees, something like mangrove, and cypress swamp. I want to know is it still possible for silicone based plants to manage it.

Feel free to suggest different types or solutions if silicone is not possible for some that I describe (even better if some parts of the plants are edible by humans). I know there's a tree with high silica in it which seem like a good substitute, but I'm curious about what silicone based plants would be like.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you mean silicon (Si) or silicone (Si-O polymer)? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Aug 31 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch silicone according to the answerer he/she mean silicone $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Aug 31 at 4:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Chickensarenotcows the link is literally in my first description there that my question information is base of the answer from my previous question. look at the "what the aquatic creature need in order to live or survive in my acid water?" $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Aug 31 at 5:33
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    $\begingroup$ @LiJun I'm not certain that what you mean by "link" is what everyone else means by link. I am referring to a markdown link. It's easy if you try. $\endgroup$ – 011358 smell Aug 31 at 6:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Chickensarenotcows its literally in the text there so i dont think it necessary to provide another in the comment but if you insist..... ( i still dont know how to do it like yours in the comment, the description is not undertandable yet to me so i hope its fine like this) worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/154036/… $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Aug 31 at 6:11
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Pretty much like any other plant.

Until you look really closely. Some relevant considerations are as follows:

A silicone-based tree will require both a carbon source and a silicon source--however, because carbon plays such a reduced biochemical role (have been replaced in many functions by silicone polymers), the carbon source need not be as accessible. The large surface area of leaves on terrestrial plants serves two functions: increasing light-gathering area, and increasing gas-exchange area. Because of reduced carbon needs, a silicone-based tree will not require as much gas exchange surface. The need to gather light may result in leaf morphology ending up no different from terrestrial carbon-based leaf morphology after all, but microscopic inspection will probably reveal an unusually low density of stomata (i.e., gas exchange ports).

There are very few gaseous compounds of silicon, and even fewer stable ones, so a silicone-based tree will not be getting its silicon source from the air as it (and terrestrial plants) can do with carbon. Instead, a silicone-based tree will need to absorb solvated silica through its roots. Carbon-based plants already have pretty large root surface areas, which they need to absorb water (and in your case, sulfuric acid) and other solvated nutrients (e.g., phosphate, nitrate, metal ions, etc.); the need to gather large quantities of solvated silicone, dwarfing uptake of everything else except biosolvent liquids (the water and sulfuric acid), may require proportionately increasing root surface area relative to the trunk and canopy, but I'm not sure how noticeable that would really be.

Silicone-based water plants would do just fine. They would grow faster in more acidic waters, which would have a higher concentration of dissolved silica for them to absorb.

Making any part of such a plants edible for a human, however... that's not gonna happen. If properly neutralized (say, boiled with baking soda), some parts of silicone-based plants may end up being non-toxic--but we just aren't equipped to be able to extract any kind of nutrition from them, beyond maybe trace mineral micronutrients. If you have a mixed ecology (such appears in the H. Beam Piper novel Uller Uprising), with primarily organic animals protected by molecular proton pumps, your human may be able to derive nutrition from native silicone plants indirectly by eating organic parts of native animals which have evolved to eat and extract nutrition from the native plants. I.e., much like humans do with pigs (which turn garbage into food), goats (which turn inedible plants from unfarmable land into food), and seals (which, through the mediation of several other sea creatures, turn plankton and seaweed into people-food).

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    $\begingroup$ I generally agree with this explaination, although I doubt that there would be trees at all. Since you do not need gas exchange and Si would need to be transported from the ground to the leaves which would be quite inefficient. I think there would only be a moss like plant life. Since soil would also not exist either, maximum contact with the silicon base and large area for light would be more efficient. Water plants could be very small algae floating through the water. $\endgroup$ – Fabian Sep 2 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Fabian Trees didn't evolve because they're efficient. They evolved to shade out their competition. Tree height is an arms race to a Nash equilibrium, not a globally optimal design. And why do you think there wouldn't be soil? $\endgroup$ – Logan R. Kearsley Sep 2 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, many Earth plants do absorb and use silica (Si02): bamboo, sawgrass, horsetails (Equisetum sp), and more. And then there are diatoms. So the problem would be in devising/evolving chemical pathways to convert the silica into silicones. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Sep 5 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf While it isn't known to have occurred naturally on Earth, it is known to be relatively easy to evolve the ability to form organosilicon compounds--because we've enticed bacteria to do it in a laboratory setting, via a mutation to cytochrome C (see, e.g., science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6315/1048). Given environmental pressures that support it, I don't imagine getting all the way to complex silicones would be too hard from there. $\endgroup$ – Logan R. Kearsley Sep 6 at 4:12
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    $\begingroup$ @LiJun Yes. One can imagine ways to avoid producing oxygen, but they most likely would. And while silicone rubbers have better thermal stability than wood, their ignition temperatures are similar, so I would expect a silicone-based wood equivalent to still burn, though perhaps not quite as well as our kind of wood. $\endgroup$ – Logan R. Kearsley Sep 12 at 2:31

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