Ok, so I've been running this idea for an alien biosphere through my head for a while now, but i'm debating how plasuable I can make this.

Starting from the base, these are sedentary autotrophs living analogously to trees, but with one major difference: they are electrosynthetic.

Rather than photosynthesis, these tall colonial organisms stand tall like lightning rods in order to attract lighting. any given trunk is connected with hundreds of trees, spread out in every direction, through their long roots. Their roots possess an insulating bark to prevent the electricity from being grounded, allowing it to run through the conductive metallic components of the insides of the root.

In what could be seen as altruism towards next of kin, I would expect that any struck tree may be damaged to some extent, but the massive surge of power from the strike would benefit hundreds of connected bodies who will grow and benefit from the electrical energy that they can convert into chemical form.

Can this work as described?

a visual, if that helps.

crude mock-up of electrical forest

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If the trees are not grounded then why does lightning strike them? (And anyway, photosynthesis uses visible light photons specifically because they fit the energy gap required to move electrons about as required by the process. You cannot substitute quality with quantity.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 31, 2021 at 22:07

1 Answer 1



I proposed similar trees here.

Would Chemosynthetic plants have any reason to grow tall?

Here is how I think your trees would be different from what you propose. They would try to avoid being struck by being covered with conductive spikes - lightning rods. These would bleed off the charge difference ebwteen earth and sky little by little. A steady trickle of energy is easier to deal with than a blast.

Your trees would have strongly conductive paths available in case of an energy surge (e.g. lightning strike) - adjacent tissues would break down to allow the charge a path to ground thru the emergency internal path. Usually electricity would travel from the branch down the tree thru the insulated roots and out the tips, performing some electrochemistry en route.


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