! Chikorita Line

!! Morphs [Oak Catalog #]

* Chikorita [#152]
* Bayleef [#153]
* Meganium [#154]

!! Physical Description

The Pokémon of the Chikorita line are sauropod creatures that are characterized by a symbiotic relationship between autotrophic and heterotrophic organs typical of most other Grass Pokémon, an appearance that incorporates a number of plant-like structures into an otherwise reptilian appearance, including hides with photosynthetic properties, as well as aromatic properties.
The initial stage of this line, Chikorita, is a small sauropod that stands 90 centimeters tall from foot to leaftip on average, and typically weighs just over 6 kilograms. Male individuals are known to generally trend smaller than their female counterparts, though subversions to this trend are not uncommon. Chikorita's more prominent features include a prominent "leaf" that grows from the top of the head. In spite of a seemingly singular appearance, this "leaf" is actually a "sheath" leaf and several "blade" leaves closely spaced in parallel to each other and typically held in place by small amounts of sap. In battle, these "blade" leaves can be detached, and used as implements with which to assail foes. Chikorita also possesses a "choker" of soft, leafy nubs that rings its neck, along with a scaled hide with green pigmentation from the leaching of cholorophyll from subcutaneous chloroplasts which facilitate photosynthesis in conjunction with its "leaves". Other features of Chikorita's physiology include legs with singular, nailed digits with structure similar to the non-functional hooves of creatures from the Numel line, a head structure in which the entirety of the skull rests upon the neck, a highly compact snout structure, a small, nublike tail, and curiously for a creature of its ecological niche, two large, forward-facing eyes.

The second form of this line, Bayleef, is a fellow quadrupedal creature that stands roughly 120 centimeters tall. Individuals from this stage usually weigh approximately 16 kilograms, once again, males trending smaller than their female counterparts. Bayleef's appearance changes dramatically upon evolution, one of the only constants being the retention of singular digits on its feet. These differences include a hide with a general absence of chlorophyll, instead possessing photosynthetic structures making use of carotenoids, giving Bayleef's hide a yellowish coloration. Other significant changes include a dramatically altered head structure, with a snout and jaws protruding beyond Bayleef's neck, wider-set eyes so as to afford a broader field of vision, and a head "leaf" similar in structure to that of Chikorita's that emerges from Bayleef's forehead in between its eyes. Unlike Chikorita's head leaf, Bayleef's is more susceptible to damage, which results in most popular culture depictions of these characters depicting Bayleef as missing a circular chunk of its "sheath" leaf. Bayleef also has a choker with larger and longer but less numerous leafy buds, which retain the aromatic properties of the counterparts on its younger brethren. Finally, Bayleef gains a significantly longer and more defined tail compared to its younger counterpart.

The third and final form of this line, Meganium, is a large creature that stands an average of 180 centimeters tall at rest, and usually weighs slightly over 100 kilograms. Meganium's overall bodyplan is similar to that of its immediate predecessor, albeit with a markedly longer neck, and legs with three nailed digits rather than singular digits. More prominent differences in Meganium's physiology include the absence of head leaves and the presence of two anther antennae located along its forehead. Like its initial form, Meganium has a hide with a green coloration from leached chlorophyll. In addition to these differences, Meganium also possesses a ring of prominent pink and white flowery petals with yellowish markings near the center of their base around the base of its neck, having a superficial resemblance to some varieties of hibiscus. It is under these petals that a large number of petal-like analogues to "blade" leaves occur, which are utilized similarly to those of Meganium's younger counterparts.

Creatures from this line are known to occasionally exhibit dramatic differences in physical features on an individual basis. One of the most well-documented of these phenomena are variations in the number of nubs, buds, or petals in different life stages. Typically, an individual will possess 10 nubs as a Chikorita, 8 buds as a Bayleef, and 6 petals as a Meganium, individuals with fewer, or in some cases, more of these structures are occasionally documented, two of the most commonly documented phenomena including 5-petaled Meganium and 6-spiked Bayleef. It should be noted that individuals possessing fewer or greater structures around their neck in one stage will not necessarily have non-typical appearances upon evolution, the inverse also holding true. In addition, Meganium petal patterns are known to differ occasionally, one of the most common differences being the presence of gold "freckles" on otherwise pink portions of petals. In exceedingly rare cases, individuals are known to carry a series of genes that inhibit the normal development of structures that would produce chlorophyll, instead promoting the further development of photosynthetic structures that use carotenoids. As Chikorita, such individuals have yellowish hides and golden-brown leaves and nubs, as Bayleef, such individuals possess tan hides and olive-brown leaves, as Meganium such individuals have vibrant yellowish hides and petals with orange rather than pink regions.

!! Notable Biology

Like other plant Pokémon, a member of the Chikorita line can perhaps be best described as a compound organism between a plant-like suborganism and a more conventional one. Unlike some so-called 'Grass-Types' such as the members of the [[{{FanonPokedex/Bulbasaur}} Bulbasaur line,]] these two suborganisms are inseparable from each other, and the complete death of one will result in the death of the other, even with medical treatment. The only externally exposed parts of this plant-like suborganism are the various leaves, petals, and other visible plant-like structures on a member of this line, all other structures being located under the hide. Along with these structures, members of the Chikorita line have a single pair of retractable, prehensile vines that can be manipulated as appendages, though these vines are generally less suited to combat purposes than those of creatures such as Bulbasaur and its evolutions, although exceptions to the general rule are often documented. These external structures are capable of regenerating if damaged, albeit increasingly slowly with each subsequent evolution. The one exception to this general trend is that of "blade" leaves, which have been documented to be fully regenerated in as little as 30 minutes under some circumstances. It should be noted that the full removal of these structures, especially of a "choker", appears to have adverse effects upon these creatures' immune systems, which can cause wounds left from an excised leaf or other structure to develop severe infections. There are unconfirmed reports of individuals that appear to exhibit abilities to tax their plant suborganisms and force it into a dramatically more active metabolic state for purposes of temporary rapid regenerative abilities, a phenomenon which has been tentatively referred to as “Giant Bloom”.

Chikorita and its evolutions are known to make extensive use of pheromones, which are perhaps best associated with this line's aromatic properties. Creatures from this line give off a number of aromas that are discernible from these creatures' buds or petals and their breath that are known to correspond to emotional states, which can enable trainers an alternate window into the emotions of a Chikorita line member. Relaxed creatures from this line are known to give off sweet and somewhat spicy aromas. It should be noted that creatures from this line, contrary to popular depiction, do not always give off pleasant-smelling aromas. Creatures from this line in prolonged states of emotional duress or depression are known to sometimes give off a sour, pungent aroma reminiscent of rotting fruit. When startled or otherwise agitated, creatures from this line often give off an exceedingly strong and irritating smell with effects known to be consistent with those of a weak lachrymatory agent, which serves to help fend off assailants and to warn nearby allies of threats. Attempting to gauge the emotions of Chikorita or one of its evolutions solely from smell is a feat reserved only for more skilled trainers, as a number of odors corresponding to dramatically different states often differ only by subtle cues. For instance, the aromas associated with relaxed members are noted to be incredibly similar, if noticeably less strong to those used in an initial defense mechanism to attempt to dissuade potential foes from attacking, a similarity that has resulted in many a overly gregarious trainer finding themselves caught off guard by uneasy creatures from this line abruptly switching over to irritant pheromones in order to attempt to force the trainer, and perceived threat, away from them. Some of these aromas appear to have therapeutic qualities for other lifeforms, as Chikorita line pheromones are known to aid struggling and unhealthy plants, and to treat some commonly ailments among Pokémon.

Unlike most other presently recognized “starter Pokémon”, Chikorita and its evolutions appear to exhibit developed, if limited paranormal abilities. One of the most notable of these abilities are what appear to be weak telekinetic capabilities, which generally see use in directing blade leaves in some attacks, and in the creation of protective barriers to blunt or otherwise block foes’ attacks. One of the most peculiar of these is the technique known as “Safeguard”, which appears to prevent a number of physical ailments, but not have any inherent ability to stop attacks. A number of variants of Safeguard have been claimed to exist, including a weaker form that makes use of particulate matter in order to generate a short-lasting barrier, sometimes referred to as “Pollen Shield”, and presently unconfirmed reports of a variant that is more physically taxing that is capable of blocking direct damage (though it has been suggested that this variant is merely a superficially similar implementation of the tutorable technique “Protect”). These creatures also appear to be one of a small number of Pokémon that is capable of utilizing an ability known as “Natural Gift” with little tutoring. Natural Gift is a paranormal phenomenon that is believed to be tied to the abrupt metabolization of certain compounds that occur in the fruits typically known colloquially as “berries.” The specific composition will dictate the relative strength and the nature of the attack, which can vary widely, but has been known to contain among other things, hydrokinetic, cryokinetic, pyrokinetic, and electrokinetic assaults. Exactly how Chikorita and its evolutions are capable of utilizing this phenomena without extensive tutoring is presently unclear, though recent studies have suggested that a series of glands that connect to the lower esophagus in these creatures may play a role in aiding the phenomenon.

Pokémon from this line are known to possess "fight-or-flight" behavior that causes individuals to more heavily tax their plant-like suborganism when wounded or otherwise fatigued. Individuals in this state will exhibit a temporary state of highly accelerated grown of blade leaves and have a number of techniques utilized dramatically strengthened. An exceedingly small number of individuals from this line do not appear to significantly exhibit this behavior. These individuals appear to instead see advanced regenerative capabilities when under states of high photosynthetic activity, rendering them effectively immune to a number of adverse conditions such as poisoning. Unconfirmed reports of individuals exhibiting a behavior in which pheromones that appear to induce effects similar to what is occasionally referred to as “Giant Bloom” are passively emitted have been reported. As of present, it remains unclear if this phenomenon occurs independently of the prior two behaviors, or in conjunction with them.

!! Habitat

Currently, Chikorita and its evolutions do not have a reliably cataloged stable population, though herds are known to exist in the northern portion of Johto due to historical accounts and the regular occurrence of sightings there, although sightings in southern Johto are documented infrequently. Based upon sighting patterns, it appears that Pokémon from this line appear to prefer woodland and grassland habitats in areas with warm, humid climates. The passage of a herd of these creatures, especially of one containing Meganium is often easy to discern, with large footprints and trampled undergrowth symptomatic of their recent presence.

!! Diet

All three stages of the Chikorita line have been documented exhibiting a mixed herbivorous heterotrophic diet supplemented by sustenance derived from photosynthesis, with aberrations to this general behavior sometimes recorded amongst severely undernourished individuals. Specific heterotrophic diets vary via form, Chikorita and Bayleef preferring to feed on the leaves of small shrubs and berries within their reach. Meganium will feed on any leaves or fruits within the reach of their jaws or their vines, enabling them to feed on foliage from treetops out of the grasp of their younger counterparts, reducing overall food stress on their herds.

These Pokémon's diet vary significantly via a number of factors, including local climate and weather. In circumstances with prolonged strong sunlight, such as in herds in regions with tropical climates, it is not unheard of for creatures from this line to derive most of their sustenance from photosynthesis. In circumstances with less sunlight, creatures from this line will have diets that are predominantly heterotrophic. It should be noted that in the prolonged absence of sunlight or water, these creatures will start to become ill from the lack of nutrition for their plant suborganism. In extreme cases, the complete death of the plant component of a Chikorita line member from prolonged sunlight deprivation or severe dehydration has been documented.

The relative presence or lack of photosynthetic pigments also influences overall diet for creatures from this line. As a result, Bayleef, which have weaker subcutaneous photosynthetic pigments, are more dependent on heterotrophic feeding patterns than their younger and elder counterparts. Carriers of this line's mutant genome are known to consistently be more dependent on non-photosynthetic sources of food due to the general absence of chlorophyll in their chloroplasts and greater dependence on less efficient carotenoids.

!! Hazards

Although Chikorita has long been stereotyped as a harmless, peaceful starter in contrast to the negative stereotypes of easily startled, flammable Cyndaquil and bite-happy Totodile, it goes without saying that these are still not creatures to be trifled with. All stages of the Chikorita line possess sharp "blade" leaves, or analogues thereof, that are capable of easily digging into thick hide and flesh. These leaves are often used in attacks in which they are utilized as implements lobbed at opponents much as a flechette. Although an attack by a Chikorita of this nature is unlikely to amount to anything more serious than a small laceration or gash, it should be noted that later evolutions not only have more blade leaves at their disposal, but are capable of using them in vastly more forceful manners, one of the most potent of such techniques consisting of a prolonged frenzied expulsion of these blades in a technique sometimes known as "Petal Dance". On occasion, members of this line have been documented attacking with a single, spinning blade leaf traveling in a wide arc in a down-then-up motion, which some observers refer to as “Leaf Boomerang”. It remains debated in training circles as to whether Leaf Boomerang represents a unique technique, or if it is merely a particular method of executing the technique known as “Razor Leaf”. It should be noted that even a weak attack of this sort such as this can be immensely damaging to more vulnerable body parts such as eyes. Beyond this, these Pokémon are capable of generating and dispersing clouds filled with toxic powder, which have effects similar to exposure to toxins from a Bulbasaur line member. Creatures from the Chikorita line also make extensive use of tackling and trampling attacks. While attacks of this nature from Chikorita are unlikely to leave more than minor to moderate bruising, it should be kept in mind that these attacks' power scales dramatically along with the size of different morphs, with wild Meganium having been recorded killing creatures attacking their herds as large as [[{{FanonPokedex/Teddiursa}} Ursaring]] through this method.

A number of other, more mundane hazards should be kept in mind when caring for these creatures. One of the most obvious is that these creatures' blade leaves are sharp when exposed, As such, attempting to loosen a blade leaf (e.g. to remove a trapped irritant) is a matter that should be handled with care, and preferably not left to be carried out by young, unsupervised children. In addition, startled, frightened, or otherwise agitated creatures from this line often emit pheromones that are irritating to the eyes and throat, which although not life-threatening, is by no means an comfortable or desirous experience.

Male members of this line will enter a state analogous to musth periodically, typically in the spring, which is marked by the accumulation of pollen on some structures of the male's body. During this state, male Chikorita line members will generally become markedly more aggressive than usual, which can lead to even well-trained and normally cooperative and amiable male individuals becoming irritable and prone to lash out at perceived provocations. During such a state, it is generally recommended to refrain from attempting to extensively socialize such creatures with others, and to find avenues to allow one's male Chikorita line member to indulge its more aggressive tendencies in a manner that is capable of being closely monitored and controlled. Female creatures from this line, especially individuals hailing from a wild background, will often view their trainer and their teammates as being in a common herd. Although the practice is not in and of itself problematic, it should be noted that improperly trained and socialized members will often exhibit overprotective tendencies, which occasionally results in these creatures seriously harming others perceived as threats to their trainer and teammates. Overly affectionate creatures from this line can also pose a safety hazard, as “reasonable” gestures of endearment for these creatures can diverge significantly, especially for the large and bulky final evolution.

!! Courting

Like most other 'Grass-Types', members of the Chikorita line possess a reproductive cycle different from that of most other Pokémon in that two pairs of zygotes must combine in order to achieve a successful fertilization of an egg. The plant suborganism must successfully transfer pollen from a male Chikorita line member to the appropriate structures of a female Chikorita line member. In addition, a conventional female egg must be fertilized via male sperm. Under wild settings, mating is typically the near-exclusive domain of Meganium.

Sexually mature male individuals from this line will seasonally generate pollen. Among Chikorita and Bayleef, this pollen accumulates on the ends of the buds on an individual's "choker". Among male Meganium, this pollen accumulates on the ends of the antennae "anthers". The female plant suborganism's gynoeclum are located along the neck in all morphs, on the tips of the curled leaf buds for female Chikorita and Bayleef, and along the central base of the petals of female Meganium. Pollen transfer and successful fertilization of the plant suborganism is possible via a number of means, including wind-based dispersal, conscious dispersal by rubbing pollen onto a female Chikorita line member's gynoeclum, or dispersal by an outside party (e.g. a curious {{FanonPokedex/Ledyba}}). Pollination is a matter that is generally beyond the control of most Chikorita line members, though female individuals have been documented exhibiting hostile behavior towards unwelcome attempts by male counterparts to actively transfer pollen.
Fertilization of the egg via sperm is the more controllable component of reproduction amongst these creatures, and the more reliably documented. Creatures from this line appear to have seasonal breeding cycles, generally in spring, in which male individuals will enter a state of increased aggressive behavior akin to musth among Phanpy line members. During these cycles, herds of these creatures will migrate to ancestral nesting grounds, and remain in the general vicinity until the breeding season has passed and any fertilized eggs are laid and hatched. Male Chikorita line members in this state are known to emit a strong sweet and spicy odor smelling strongly of capsaicin, while females are known emit especially pleasing and fragrant aromas during such seasons. In such seasons, female Meganium in wild settings will detach themselves from their immediate herd in order to allow would-be suitors to approach them. Courtship in such settings is typically initiated via the male, who will be attracted to females via their scent and audible cues. If the female does not wish to entertain the male's advances, she will generally flee, which given the general bias in strength in favor of female individuals of this line, is generally sufficient to spur an unwanted suitor. If the female so chooses, she will allow the male to approach and give displays of affection such as nuzzling with snouts or vines and the intertwining of vines and antennae before choosing whether or not to accept the male as a suitor.

Breeding seasons generally conclude in a matter of a couple weeks, though herds will generally remain around nesting sites for around 2 months, so as to allow eggs to hatch before continuing to move on as a herd. The largest nesting ground on record was known to have over 50 nests, though most sites are far smaller. Most mating cycles will produce single offspring, which are tended to by their mothers, with aid from other female herd members. Creatures from this line are known to court and mate with creatures outside of their line, though the practice is far more common in captivity than in the wild. It should be noted that creatures from this line will often hold vastly different ideals for courtship behavior than other Pokémon they can theoretically mate with, which can result in a well-meaning attempt to woo one of these creatures falling dramatically flat.

!! Social Structure

Female members of this line lay eggs in earthen nests, which are semi-exposed so that they can be incubated by their parents. Incubation is typically handled via the mother, though orphaned eggs have been known to be taken in and incubated by other females in a herd. After hatching, a Chikorita will typically cared for by its mother and the other females in its herd for 24-30 months, after which, it will remain in its herd as an independent member. As with a number of other Pokémon, Chikorita eggs have their gender influenced significantly by the temperature they are incubated at, the hormones and gender of the host creature determining the gender of the plant-like suborganism. Minute changes in temperature are capable of dramatically influencing gender ratios, which is perhaps most vividly demonstrated in the average gender ratio of captive-bred creatures from this line, which have a average male to female ratio of 7:1.

Chikorita and their evolutions generally organize themselves into two primary herd structures, a matriarchal herd structure and a male-centered "bachelor herd" structure for males. The former structure is headed by a herd "matriarch", usually either the sole or one of a small number of Meganium in it, or a particularly strong Bayleef. These herds are organized along female-linked kinship networks, and Chikorita of both genders. In these structures, female members provide collective assistance to individuals in the herd with young through allomothering, helping to guard and care for such young individuals. Individuals will continue to remain in these herds even beyond their initial 24-30 months of care while they are still Chikorita. Upon evolution into Bayleef, male individuals will depart from these herds for either a solitary existence, or in more common circumstances, to join a "bachelor herd" of male Bayleef and Meganium. Males in bachelor herds spar frequently to assert dominance over each other, which determines priority for being able to approach females for courtship. Unlike matriarchal herds, bachelor herds generally have more fluid structures, with individuals regularly shifting rank depending on the results of sparring or the departure of individuals for other bachelor herds or for a more solitary existence.

!! In Human Culture

As difficult as it may be to believe with its present status as the officially recognized Grass starter of Johto, historically members of the Chikorita line have for the most part been aloof from many human cultures that were in nearby proximity to them. Chikorita line members were typically valued for their medicinal value, captive individuals often seeing use as healers. Their aromatic qualities valued for medicinal and for emotionally soothing purposes. In a handful of cultures, Meganium saw use as a beast of burden, though other creatures were generally preferred before them (due in no small part for the tendency for male individuals to periodically enter states of "breeding rage"). Unfortunately for these creatures, some of this value placed upon them by human culture was strictly utilitarian in nature, with many regions with populations of these creatures having historical traditions of hunting these creatures for their buds and petals which were used in the creation of herbal remedies and aphrodisiacs. Although the initial excision of said buds and petals is generally survivable, the resulting immune system crash and elevated risk of bacterial infection of the sites of excision can prove challenging to weather, even with treatment via modern medicine. In the historical era, such harvesting was often a death sentence for these creatures, and decimated many populations.

Chikorita's status as a Johtoan "starter" is the result of an outgrowth of a captive breeding program intended to help replenish wild populations after the first regional restrictions on the trade of body parts from these creatures were levied. During the program, a small number of creatures were documented to be particularly easy to handle after having imprinted upon their human caretakers and eager to interact with visiting youths, which provided the impetus for an exploratory program to determine whether or not Chikorita and its brethren, with sufficient breeding and psychological conditioning, would be viable creatures to entrust to novice trainers. The program was ultimately a success, and Chikorita began to be distributed as a starter for beginning trainers. Chikorita is the most recent of Johto's recognized starters, the current generation of creatures from this line distributed as starters representing the 6th generation from the beginning of this program, as opposed to Totodile line members of this program representing the 8th generation, and Cyndaquil line members representing the 12th generation.

In contemporary culture, Chikorita and its brethren are typically cast as being gentle, affectionate, and undemanding creatures to care for. Despite this, relative to the other starters in its region, these creatures are generally less represented in popular culture than Totodile and Cyndaquil line members. One of the most prominent aberrations to this rule is that of an animated film following [[TheLandBeforeTime a young Chikorita attempting to migrate to a sheltered crater valley safe from the threat of predation in prehistoric times along with a number of mons.]]


[-Original version written by {{@/Locoman}}, [=v2=] by {{@/TracerBullet}}-]