Tree-of-Life

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See also tree of life for other meanings of the term.

The Tree-of-Life is a fictional plant (the ancestor of yams, with similar appearance and taste) in Larry Niven's Known Space universe, for which all Hominids have a built-in genetic craving. Consumption of Tree-of-Life makes human-related species turn into Protectors, as a result of a symbiotic virus that grows in the root; however, the virus requires enough thallium to develop, which is why it failed on Earth. To those too young to develop into Protectors, Tree of Life smells repugnant, while the virus is fatal to those too old.