The Pigeonplant is a locomotive meat plant of the Birdplant variety, native to the Lucidus mission. While the Pigeonplant has a wild habitat exclusive to portions of the Illuminatian continent, far many more Pigeonplant are kept in captivity, where the plant is cultivated for its utility for homing and message delivery purposes.
The Pigeonplant, like most Birdplants, is capable of airborne locomotion, levitation, and gliding in the lower atmosphere thanks to its light weight and aerodynamic dimensions. While the Pigeonplant contains small amounts of muscular tissue similar to that of other meat plant species, popular opinion holds that the meat tissue of the Pigeonplant is not desirable for culinary or gastronomic purposes. As such, the wild Pigeonplant is largely left unmolested by humans. The same cannot be said of Raptorplants, however, which regularly intercept wild Pigeonplant and other Birdplant species and feast upon them.
The Pigeonplant was engineered aboard the Lucidus mission specifically to exploit the directional-awareness capabilities some meat plants had developed through enhancements to their ferrodynamic glandular systems, barometric-reactant soft tissues, and photoreceptive structures. These special organ structures were sensitized through sophisticated genetic engineering and selective breeding in the Pigeonplant species to yield a Birdplant capable of sensing its location relative to a weak geomagnetic field, artificial macrowave electromagnetic fields, and infrared and visible light.
Lucidus mission organizers anticipated the resulting Illuminatian civilization early in its development might find utility in a non-electronic carrier method for messages and small parcels that would be rapid and would not rely upon the sparse human labor available. The same biologists responsible for the advent of the locomotive meat plant imagined employing non-sentient fauna to do that work after the successful development of the Birdplant proved that scientists could produce a vegetative creature that could fly. It was quickly understood that the simplest solution would be to improve sensory capabilities that would result in a creature with the capacity to engage in homing behavior.
The Pigeonplant was engineered on a basis of genetic and biological material primarily from a collection of earth-derived woody plantlife, further imbued with a sophisticated balance of genetic derivations from earthly avian species—specifically from the Columbidae bird family. As the origin of the Pigeonplant is primarily non-intelligent non-animal life forms, the Pigeonplant—like all meat plant life—is considered to be technically vegetative in nature.
Similar to all Illuminatian meat plant organisms, the Pigeonplant was engineered to have no sense of sentience, no advanced intelligence, and no sense of self, making the process of employing the labor of a Pigeonplant perfectly ethical according to Illuminatian society's augmented cultural sense of compassion as it relates to regards for the welfare of animal life.
A Pigeonplant is one of the largest Birdplant species that exists in Illuminatia. The adult Pigeonplant has a wingspan of more than 18 LU, providing it efficient lift and endowing the creature with the capability to carry a significant weight. A large adult Pigeonplant weighing only 20 MU can carry a weight of up to 60 MU and still travel at the standard speed.
The Pigeonplant is able to find its way back to the location where it was hatched from its parent plant over distances exceeding 14 MLU. Pigeonplant gardens are maintained at locations where messages or parcels might need to be frequently delivered, such as a collection point for information from which news and intelligence might be conveniently disseminated through more traditional means to a concentrated population. The mature Pigeonplant is then transported from its home location to any remote location within its range from which the originated of a message might be anticipated. The Pigeonplant can then be laden with a message or parcel and released. The Pigeonplant will find its way to its home location, where the message or parcel will be collected and attended to appropriately. The Pigeonplant is then given generous nutrition to reconstitute its energy stores and transported back to its departure location or any other number of locations from which a message might be conveyed via terrestrial transportation. A fully-laden Pigeonplant can travel up to about 3,700 KLU/DU, although a lightly-laden Pigeonplant can travel up to 40% faster.
While traditionally a Pigeonplant who has completed its homing journey is returned to its dispatch location through human-powered terrestrial means, a well-organized and appropriately-provisioned Pigeonplant homing network can actually employ other Pigeonplants to return a Pigeonplant back to its dispatch location. Thanks to the ability of an adult Pigeonplant to carry three times it’s the weight of the average individual of its own species, a Pigeonplant who is homed to its opposing Pigeonplant's dispatch location can carry a fellow Pigeonplant for its return journey, provided the passenger Pigeonplant is sedated such that it will not adjust its weight and upset the flight of the carrier Pigeonplant. Carrier Pigeonplants who are homed to the opposite location from which an opposing Pigeonplant is homed are now commonly used to provide return transportation for other Pigeonplants.
While a Pigeonplant can be repurposed to many different dispatch locations on any given mission so long as its destination is always its homing location, there are multiple reasons to utilize a Pigeonplant on a regular route. Pigeonplants can increase the overall speed of their homing journey by up to 15% when they are already familiar with the route; this speed advantage is not realized by Pigeonplants navigating unfamiliar terrain, which must rely solely on their inbuilt geomagnetic, barometric, and photoreceptive senses. Additionally, the aforementioned use of a partner Pigeonplant homed to a dispatched Pigeonplant's dispatch location to carry the dispatched Pigeonplant back to its dispatch location necessitates the use of regular Pigeonplant dispatch route to which at least two individual Pigeonplants are dedicated. On an uncommon basis, however, large Pigeonplant networks have been known to return a Pigeonplant to its dispatch location through a more complicated two or three-segment Pigeonplant-piloted journeys.
Utility amid technological advancement
Prior to the development of wired and wireless long-distance electronic communication apparatuses, Pigeonplants were used early in Illuminatian history as the primary rapid communication method for governmental operations as well as for mass media, including newspapers. The potential use of the Pigeonplant to deliver small parcels was largely an afterthought.
As electronic communication quickly advanced as a more convenient means to convey messages nearly instantaneously, Pigeonplant homing was relegated as backup communication mechanism for messages. At this time, Pigeonplant homing network providers began experimenting with giving Pigeonplants larger and weightier packages to deliver. Somewhat quickly, Pigeonplant parcel delivery became a viable enterprise, taking advantage of the organism's ability to bear three times its own weight to transport small packages. Later, as transportation networks improved traditional mechanical means of parcel delivery, homing Pigeonplants became popular for delivery of formal communications. The service was advertised as a fashionable luxury, with postal delivery was deemed too slow and electronic means deemed not chic enough for the affairs of social formality.