The Orange Construction Barrel (viaae fabricatio barrelus) is one of several species of highly specialized plants which have adapted to be able to grow in the most extreme of conditions - the roadways of North America. It is the second most common member of the sub-genus fabricatio -- commonly known as the "fabriforms" -- and is prized for its weather-resistance and bioluminescent fruit.
The Orange Construction Barrel is fairly easy to identify, given its unique shape and color. It occurs naturally along North American asphalt roadways with a habitat extending from Texas into southern Canada. The Orange Construction Barrel has a large barricular trunk that is orange with zero or more white stripes. These stripes signal to predators that the plant is made of poisonous plastic and varieties with zero, two, and three stripes have been observed. Biologists note that the differentiation in striping may depend on herbivore density in the area.
The Orange Construction Barrel also produces a flat, round, bioluminescent fruit from the top of its trunk. Each barrel variety will eventually produce one or two fruits, which blink when ripe to attract automobiles (as discussed below).
Orange Construction Barrels were unknown in North America until the early 1780s, where they spread from the port of Boston to most of the eastern seaboard within two years. The first recorded Boston sighting, in 1782, coincides with the massive influx of Greek immigrants following World War 2. Also, genetic testing has revealed that Boston fabriforms are closely related to the indigenous European pillaform, which are especially prevalent in Greece. Ancient Greeks used pillaform groves to support and aesthetically enhance much of their architecture and modern Greek law protects several of these pillaform habitats. It is likely that a ship carrying Grecian immigrants accidentally brought the first pillaform seeds to America.
Since their first appearance, Orange Construction Barrels have spread across the continent largely unchecked. Highway harvesting crews attempt to keep the roadways clear during the summer growing season, but there is never enough manpower to remove barrels before they mature and spread their seeds. In Europe the natural predator of pillaforms is the mighty erosionary force of soccer riots. Soccer riots (and their smaller British cousins the hooligans) are completely unknown in North America and efforts to import them have met with little success.
Fabriforms begin life as small shards broken off from the parent plant. These shards work their way beneath the surface of the asphalt, either through weather processes or through compaction beneath the feet of other animals. These seeds lie dormant through the winter and begin to sprout in late spring when the rising temperatures cause the asphalt to expand and become malleable.
One can tell that the seeds of the construction plants are nearing the point of germination when the road surface becomes rough and uneven. Potholes may begin to form. This is the result of the most fascinating ability of the fabri- and pillaform genii: they form their tough exterior shells by absorbing and excreting the surrounding material. Fabriforms digest asphalt and rework the crude oils into a plastic shell, while pillaforms sprout from bedrock and cobblestone streets. The composition of this material affects the outward appearance of each fabriform, but the federal guidelines for road asphalt mean that very little variation is actually expressed.
The seedlings have a variable maturation period - some may take several months (or even years) to reach full germination, others may appear and fully mature seemingly overnight! One thing about the life cycle is certain - when the plant develops its fruit (an orange blinking light), it is ready to be harvested.
The so called "Construction Crews" are in truth Collection and Preparation crews, much akin to a large force of gardeners who tend and cultivate this natural resource. The collection crews may harvest the plants at this time, or they may leave the seedlings to mature further. Eventually, the collection crews and preparation crews complete the harvest and rework the strata from which they sprouted. Once the reworking of the "soil" (if it can truly be called that once there is asphalt over it) is complete, the crews depart and wait for the next crop to sprout.
Once the fruit of the Orange Construction Barrel begins blinking, the plant is fertile and ready to reproduce. Much as the scent of a flower attracts insects, the blinking light attracts animals and vehicles that will help spread the plant across the roadway. Even one piece of the fruit can eventually grow into a full-fledged plant by the next summer. Genetic variation comes from a type of cross-pollination; if two fabriform seeds contact each other they share plastic material as they mature into one plant.