My magic is a gas, and this gas floats up high. Plants get their food from this gas, not from the sun. There is some magic everywhere, however the higher you go, the more magic. What would these plants look like?

Note: These plants aren't magical, they just get their food from a gas that floats up. Think of it as less magic, more a gas.

  • $\begingroup$ Presumably there's a whole eco-system involving plants at different levels with different strategies. Did you have a particular issue in mind that you could narrow the question, as at the moment it could be seen as too broad and get closed? (There's a saying: "Form follows function - "What would they look like is a bit of an odd question anyhow and would depend on their energy/magic gathering strategies, perhaps you could focus on asking about those). $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ More rules about the gas would help. Does the gas move? Can it be generated? Does the gas take the place of light energy, or CO2, or H2O (plants eat all of those) or does it take the place of all 3? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome, you need to elaborate what this magical gas do to ordinary living thing then we can make up something like a certain endangered plant will thrive easily when in contact with such gas ;D $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 2:41

1 Answer 1


The Premise

Terrestrial plants that we know gain their energy by using sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars. It is likely a gross oversimplification of the matter, but it is the gist of how the process works. If they are using this magic gas instead of the sun as the question states, then my first thought is that this new gas is the catalyst and not the actual source of food.

This does matter -- as a catalyst, the magic gas is not consumed to make food. If it was actually converting magic to sugar, then there would e the issue of how does the magic go back into the world and not all be turned into sugars for plants.

So, that should mean that your magi-plants do not need a constant inbound source of magic to live, but as the plant grows they will need more to compensate for their greater size and/or needs.

Plant Needs

Energy Gathering

First of all, green is out -- well maybe. Plants are green because of chlorophyll giving them their colour. Whatever compounds would prove best for utilizing magic to produce food will be selected for, and that will determine what colour the plants are. The other thing is that chlorophyll is a more dominant pigment than others, hence deciduous leaves changing colours. It might be that your magiphyll isn't as dominant of a pigment meaning that plants could be more colourful than what we know depending on the plant's other needs.

It also means that light is not necessary for growth -- plants can grow in lightless caves just as easily as they can grow in a sunlit field so long as there is enough magic to support them. Plants growing upside-down like stalagmites could dot caves -- the base of the plant on the ceiling to tap into the magic trapped up there while the top burrows into the ground to find nutrients to make food. Cave environments have the potential to be interesting.

Your magi-plants will have the same two drives as terrestrial plants -- get food and reproduce. Plants will employ the same various stratagems to gain the magical energy needed to make food as our terrestrial counterparts. Some will aim to grow as tall as possible to reach the more magic-rich levels to ensure growth. Some will engage in parasitic relations with other plants and steal the gathered energy, going on the premise that the host itself will have a higher concentration of energy than the air around it.

Depending on how magic touches other aspects of the world, there could be more symbiotic relationships between plant and animal than we see here. If a small plant of some nature could coexist with a bird, then the bird flying would give the plant superior access to the more dense airborne magic. In return, the plant grants something to the bird that would assist it in survival -- extra energy, some minor magical defence, etc.

A more horror-laden version of the above is taking the idea of the fungi that take over ants and apply it to birds, or any animal capable of getting the plant to a height.


Reproduction is the other drive of the plant and if it can't do that, then there is no hope for the continuation of the species. It is likely that some magic will be pulled from normal functions to infuse in the seeds to give new plants a chance to grow, so they will need to draw a bit more from their surroundings. That or shrink/die a bit as they starve themselves to ensure the survival of a new generation.

Bonus Insight: The Nature of Magic Gas

How your gas behaves in the world around it will also determine how your plants evolve to capitalize on using it.

Death of a Plant

When a plant dies, does that release the magic back into the atmosphere as the plant decays? Is this death release something that other plants could take advantage of -- much like the way now growth can flourish after a forest fire. It goes back to how magic is stored in the plants in relation to how they generate food with it.

Magic Stream

We have giant air currents in the sky. For me in Canada, we have something that we call the Jet Stream -- an atmospheric current that runs west to east. North of that current tends to have colder weather than south of it which is one way that it is relevant to us.

If there are similar currents of magic in the air then I would expects plants that run on it to adapt to them. Fertility might be increased under the streams, and the world is striped with these regions of higher fertility even with the same terrestrial conditions. If they are sensitive enough, the might even be useful in diving the weather.

Atmospheric Interactions

Fleshing out how the magic gas interacts with the atmosphere also will help. Tornadoes and rain could force magic that would otherwise stay aloft high in the sky down to earth where lower plants would be able to draw it in. Some plants might specifically wait these magic-laden rains to trigger growth spurts, like how rain in a desert can bring the desert to life.

A tornado in the plans might force large amounts of your magic gas down to earth, supercharging whatever plants were not killed, uprooted, or otherwise mortally harmed in the storm.


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