Jan Baptist van Helmont's Willow Tree
Willow tree.jpg


Jan Baptist van Helmont


Potted white willow (Salix alba)


Allows for humans to perform photosynthesis.


Arboreal transformation.



Collected by

Nandin Chautala







Date of Collection

April 29, 1647


Origin[edit | edit source]

Jan Baptist van Helmont (12 January 1580 – 30 December 1644) was a Flemish chemist, physiologist, and physician. He worked during the years just after Paracelsus and the rise of iatrochemistry, and is sometimes considered to be "the founder of pneumatic chemistry". Van Helmont is remembered today largely for his ideas on spontaneous generation, his 5-year tree experiment, and his introduction of the word "gas" (from the Greek word chaos) into the vocabulary of scientists.

Van Helmont was a disciple of Paracelsus (though he scornfully repudiated his errors as well as those of most other contemporary authorities), a mystic and alchemist. As an experiment to determine where plants get their mass, he grew a willow tree and measured the amount of soil, the weight of the tree and the water he added. After five years the plant had gained about 164 lbs (74 kg). Since the amount of soil was basically the same as it had been when he started his experiment (it lost only 57 grams), he deduced that the tree's weight gain had come from water. Since it had received nothing but water and the soil weighed practically the same as at the beginning, he argued that the increased weight of wood, bark and roots had been formed from water. Although his conclusion was flawed, he is largely considered responsible for the beginning of the theory of photosynthesis.

The willow tree is commonly believed to have many medicinal properties, and was used in many ancient tinctures to treat fevers and aches. Sacillyc acid, like aspirin, is a chemical derivative of salicin, which is found in the bark of willow trees.

Effects[edit | edit source]

Since the conclusion of the 5 year experiment by Van Helmont, the plant and tree have been inseparable since, and miraculously the roots have not outgrown the pot, nor has the tree wilted since its planting, though it continues to grow and requires pruning to prevent problematic growth.

When any part of the tree is consumed, the consumer will be able to perform photosynthesis as opposed to cellular respiration after the portion consumed has been digested; although the leaves are edible or brewable, consuming or brewing with the bark produces the most potent and longest-lasting effect, delaying the subsequent transformation. Immediately after digestion, in addition to its typical medicinal properties, consumers will become much thirstier and will feel the need to drink much more water than normal (though drinking more than a normal human healthily could does not harm them). After several days, consumers will begin to turn green as their hemoglobin becomes chlorophyll (which aids further photosynthesis). As time goes on, their skin will eventually be covered in bark, hair will become leaves, arms will become branches, the legs will merge to form a large singular trunk with the torso, and feet will become roots over several days to at least two weeks. This transformation, although slow and painless, will eventually culminate in the consumer's fatality as they fully transform into a new, non-anomalous Salix alba tree.

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