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I am a giant, intelligent, fortress-like, plant-based organism, able to forge many structures, defenses and organisms from my flesh by altering my own DNA and rapidly growing new constructs whenever and wherever I please. I have recently developed a new way to fend off the humans trying to kill me: a large (about the size of an exercise ball), hollow, melon-based fruit filled with multiple volatile chemicles. The melon is hurled sling-like by a large vine arm into the enemy. When the melon breaks, the chemicals mix, causing a sizable explosion.

My question is, are there chemicals found in plants (or able to be aquired by plants) that would serve this purpose? I'm looking for two (or more) volatile chemicals that violently combust when they come in contact with eachother.

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  • $\begingroup$ Duplicate worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/126738/30492 ? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jan 28 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica that's not what i'm asking. i'm not asking for a possible mechanism. i already know the mechanism, i'm asking for the chemicals involved. $\endgroup$ – Cobbington Jan 28 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ Hint: the word you are looking for is hypergolic. As in, for example, dinitrogen tetroxide is hypergolic with monomethylhydrazine. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 28 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ You probably wouldn't alter your DNA, you would use various proteins and compounds to activate and deactivate parts of it in different cells to get them to express different traits. $\endgroup$ – Richard Smith Jan 29 at 0:41
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An ANFO derivative

ANFO is a binary explosive whose two ingredients are probably something that a melon-type thing could reasonably contain, when separated.

Ammonium nitrate is actually commonly used as fertilizer. I.e. it's not exactly toxic to plants. In the kind of concentrations that will be used in the melon, I don't know. But the stomach is proof against super-concentrated hydrochloric acid, so this doesn't seem to be a big problem to me.

Fuel oil is, well, oil. Not the kind any plant produces, mind. But hydrocarbons are ultimately derived from organic life, so it ought to be possible to create fuel oil (or maybe something close enough) and store it in the melon.

So your melon has two large voids within it, and the rind is specially reinforced in some way to withstand the contents (similar to the lining of the stomach protecting it from a strong acid).

You'll probably want the ANFO mixed before the melon is thrown. It may require some time to 'ripen' and additional internal structure to mix the oil with the ammonium nitrate (as the resulting product is generally a solid).

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It is easy to suggest a range of highly reactive chemicals such as hypergolic rocket propellants which are unlikely to be produced in any organism. Much more likely would be a weapon that involves physical processes aided by some effective if less impressive chemical reaction.

I suggest the plant creates a very large nut like fruit with a thick pressure resistant shell. Inside in two separate compartments it then generates hydroquinones and peroxidase enzymes as used by the Bombardier Beatle.

When fired at an enemy the separation of the stalk triggers some form of biological or physical fuse mechanism that initiates an explosive reaction after a few seconds. A second or two after that, the shell is filled with very hot gas high pressure gas and explodes sending shell fragment shrapnel in all directions.

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You might enjoy reading about the Hura Crepitans, an earth-based plant with exploding seed pods (because nature is already so much more metal than we give it credit for). Here's a paper on how it works; basically, the seeds are wrapped up in 5 "valve-like" wrappers that all curl up at once. It blasts the seeds as far as 100 meters, and acts similarly to how a steel spring might. Admittedly, it doesn't delve into the chemistry of it like what you're asking for, and I haven't been able to find one that does in my few minutes of google-fu. Don't let it discourage you--- there's absolutely more out there than what I've linked, I just haven't put forth the effort.

I don't know if it fits with your goal, but I think that these sorts of seed pods could easily be treated as a sort of shrapnel grenade to cause damage to other beings, if that's your goal. If you're looking for a fiery explosion, I don't know that I can help you. :)

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  • $\begingroup$ What you describe is a gun, while OP asks for a mortar shell. Still a good one. $\endgroup$ – Jan Dorniak Jan 28 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ @JanDorniak check out the article-- it actually flings multiple seeds out in a circle. I agree that it isn't the same as an explosion, but it can still fling a form of shrapnel all around. $\endgroup$ – NegativeFriction Jan 29 at 13:22
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Sodium-Water. This one is easy, my dear plant friend! Make a melon with 2 chambers, in one simply put water. In the other, pure sodium. Hurl the melon towards the pesky humans. Upon contact, the melon breaks and the contents of the chambers combine for an explosive conclusion. Source: https://www.nature.com/news/sodium-s-explosive-secrets-revealed-1.16771

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