A Chunk of SciFi – 1.04 – Steel Grass [Plant]
“Ya might want to be careful before going to try and set up a farm in that area over there. Oh, it’s not cursed or infected with the nano-phage or anything like that. That there be a patch of Steel Grassland. You must be new here if you didn’t recognise it. See the way it slightly reflects the sunlight? Go ahead, feel the blades of the grass itself, but never the edge, that stuff is like a field of blades sometimes. Sure you might get lucky and not cut yourself, but there are so many that you’d be better off running through a pane of glass…and never ever try to use a mower on this stuff…”
Terrain type: Grassland
Chance of being present on a planet: 10%
Uses: “Natural” barrier against animals, soil purification
Steel Grassland is, To be exact, it referring to the grass that grows on this type of land, not the land itself. When you first see Steel Grass, the first thing that many people notice is the slight reflective sheen to the grass. Close examination reveals that the grass, whilst looking like normal grass, is very sharp, almost like a field of miniature swords.
Various types exist, each designed to remove a certain type of metal from the soil. Whilst steel does not naturally exist in nature, the nickname was given to the first batch and it stuck, much to the annoyance of farmers and those that work with it.
It is believed that the SG was invented by an alien race that tried to colonise the planet on which it was first created several decades ago. The grass seeds require a high metallic content in the soil to grow into the so-called “steel” version. This requirement, along with some old records discovered about the creation of this plant shows that the steel nature and thus the sword like edge to each blade of grass was a mistake. It appears to be that the home planet of these aliens was undergoing some kind of transmutation and they required a grass that could not only survive, but thrive in the increasingly metallised content of their soil. This process worked by extracting the metal from the soil and holding it in the plant. Sadly, the plant they picked was a fast growing grass type.
In the first few weeks of the experiment, the grass grew at an unprecedented rate, vastly reducing the metallic content of the soil in which it was planeted. It was soon discovered, when the first attempts to harvest and remove the grass were made , what had happened. Each blade of grass, whilst being flexible and outwardly appearing to be like other types, was like a miniature sword. When the farmer-scientists ran their harvester through the field, enough of the metallic like blades were present to destroy the harvesting machine. Over the next week or so, as more of the grass matured, the field became more deadly to anyone going inside. Then, something their feared would happen happened. The seeds and grass started to spread. Some of the seeds had already been sent off planet to other worlds.
Luckily there are several limitations to the Steel Grass. The first is that it requires a very high metallic content in the soil to grow. The second is that, despite the metallic nature of the grass, it can still be burning, it just requires a much higher temperature. The molten metal once cooled can be easily removed and used normally. This low impact form of metal extraction is surprisingly popular, even if the risks of using so-called Steel Grass or its variants is quite high.