I am working on a coastal salt marsh ecosystem, and need an organism which has a large trunk. From my poking around it seems to me a large woody grass, or a Prototaxites like fungus\lichen might best suit my needs, but I am not sure.

This organism needs to:

  • Grow quickly, hopefully reach mature size after 2 - 6 months (anywhere in that range is fine).

  • Have a trunk with a diameter at the ground of 0.5 - 1.5 meters at maturity (anywhere in that range is fine).

  • Have some kind of root-like system, but it doesn't need to run deep, only a meter or so, though deeper than that is also acceptable.

  • And of coarse survive well in the aforementioned salt marsh conditions.

Would an organism fulfilling these criteria be possible? I briefly considered something akin to a mangrove tree, however they lack the central trunk I'm looking for.

Any suggestions as for existing organisms, or designs for fictional ones, are welcome.

I would like to give a preemptive thank-you to anyone who takes the time out of their day to answer this question.





The kind of plants that adapted to high salinity waters are called halopytes. Generally they look like grasses or mangroves but one is a palm called Babassu (Attalea speciosa) that could be the most suitable or can be the best starting point for some tweaking. As for the mangroves I don't know why you didn't pick them as first choice as there are some that are proper trees with a big trunk (height above 30meters in some), like the Tea Mangrove (Pelliciera rhizophorae) which lives in areas that are flooded daily with saltwater, the LargeLeaf Orange Mangrove (Bruguiera gymnorhiza), this one lives where there's a mix of saltwater and freshwater. The Red and the Stilted Mangroves (Rizhopora Mangle and Stylosa) are also very big and the roots are like stilts. These two like even more salt than the first two I mentioned. In good conditions they grow really fast too.

If needed for tweaking: in these kind of plants some have the capacity to tolerate the salt in the water others have the ability to eliminate it and/or reserve some of the life cycle in periods where the concentration of salt is lowered (like a rainy season).

As an aside, whatever way you decide to go, you can have a more plausible result (if plausible is what you are looking for) "creating" something that is a small variation of an existing plant, rather than adapting some other specie to an environment it cant tolerate.


Very Plausible: Mangroves (but not as you see them today, as you noted)

We had exactly what you're looking for in the Persian Gulf. Mangroves grow exceptionally fast (I even grew my own tree in a murky pot), under high salinity conditions.

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Most were a little smaller than what you're imagining, but some grew to have as wide as 1.0m diameters. The mangroves in these pictures are about six months old and growing.

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An older mangrove appears to approach the size you want while it is seasonally barren of leaves.

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In order to acheive a healthy mangrove, you need temperate to tropical climate, salt-water, lots of active fauna (for fertilizer), and very gentle tides for very gentle flushing in an area. These are in Abu Dhabi, photos courtesy me (except for the last one, below), but I can provide more info at great length if you want.

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