• Bella Terhune

The Viridian Forest Ecosystem


Welcome back, new and returning Pokémon trainers! Although the “Scribbling” format is slightly different this year, I am excited to continue writing excellent Pokémon articles for all of you! This edition’s theme is outdoors, so I have decided to write about the ecosystem of one of the most famous natural areas in the Pokémon world: Viridian Forest! There is much more to see beyond the worn-down path that novice trainers walk on their way from Palette Town to Pewter City, so I will expose the unknown beauties and dangers of the forest to you all.

Viridian Forest is well-known for its ubiquitous bug Pokémon. You can’t travel through the area without young bug catchers begging you to battle them with their Caterpies and Weedles. These Pokémon are the main prey source for all the Pokémon higher up on the food chain, but they can defend themselves. Caterpie releases a horrible scent from its head when threatened. Weedle has stronger protection in a big, poisonous barb on its head. Bird Pokémon looking for a snack have trouble picking up Weedle because they don’t want their mouth jabbed with poison. 90% of these two Pokémon die before they evolve, but the lucky ones usually make it all the way to their fully evolved form.

First, however, these bugs must metamorphize. Caterpie evolves into Metapod and Weedle into Kakuna; these two chrysalis-shaped Pokémon hang from the trees while they harden and develop their wings. Metapod evolves into Butterfree, a beautiful butterfly Pokémon that somehow collects honey from flowers; these flowers must only be native to Viridian Forest because I have never heard of a honey-producing flower. It scatters poisonous powder from its wings when threatened; this situation occurs rarely, however, because Butterfree averages a height of over a meter tall! Beedrill, on the other hand, are dangerous Pokémon. If you approach its nest hoping to find sweet Combee, you’ll get a nasty surprise when a swarm of Beedrill chases after you with their poisonous stingers. These bees eat meat: they attack their prey by jabbing it before bringing it back to their nest to consume.

Some Johto bug Pokémon live in Viridian Forest, too. The Viridian forest population of Ledyba, Ledian, Spinarak and Ariados are believed to have migrated to Kanto long ago before Mt. Silver separated the two regions. These populations have separated somewhat over time; they are different subspecies but the same species. Ledyba are incredibly weak Pokémon. Because of this trait, they live together in giant clusters in trees and bushes. The Viridian subspecies of Ledyba is more orange in color with more amorphous spots compared to its red-bodied, round-spotted Johto counterparts. Like Blitzle’s stripes, Ledyba’s spots help them avoid predation because predators see a giant orange and black blob, so they struggle to pick out a target. Ledyba that survive long enough evolve into Ledian. Ledian gather in forest clearings on moonlit nights for unknown reasons. When they are in moonlight, their spots glow brightly and they release a strange powder from their bodies. Some scientists believe that exposure to moonlight boosts the power of Ledian’s Comet Punch move. Ledian are incredibly weak, but with six fists each, the power of their attacks amasses quickly.

Spinarak spin strong webs in which they trap their prey. They will wait patiently for hours for an unsuspecting bug Pokémon to get caught in its net, which is so strong that it can even trap a Butterfree. Being eaten by a Spinarak is an unpleasant experience because Spinarak has small jaws and weak poison, so prey death is prolonged. Kantonian Spinarak are more blue and purple than their red Johtonian counterparts, and they are slightly bigger as well. Ariados’ string is so strong that people have domesticated lines of Ariados to spin thread for clothing. Ariados hunts at night and, and its hunting method is pretty clever for a bug Pokémon; it attaches some string to its prey’s foot, and it follows the prey back to all its brethren. Ariados can either attack right there or set up a web nearby to catch lots of prey. Ariados’ poison is much stronger than Spinarak’s, so most trainers who accidentally get bitten should go to the nearest hospital for an antidote.

Bird Pokémon are the most visible predators within Viridian Forest and consume most of the poor Caterpie and Weedle that don’t make it to the metamorphosis stage. Pidgey, Pidgeotto and Pidgeot live in colonies along ponds and rivers farther into the forest than most trainers travel. The weak Pidgey stay close to the ground in the river grass both to hide themselves and so that they can kick the sand in a predator’s face to make a quick getaway. Pidgeotto are in the middle of the hierarchy. Pidgeotto alternate between taking care of the Pidgey and flying far off to look for land prey. This practice strengthens their flying and hunting skills. The Pidgeot are at the top of the hierarchy. They watch over the rest of the colony, and they hunt for Magikarp in nearby bodies of water. Pidgeot can create huge gusts of wind to protect their colony from threats such as a Beedrill swarm. These colonies hunt during the day; at night, the bug Pokémon still cannot rest because Hoothoot and Noctowl are on the hunt. Hoothoot can sense the Earth’s rotation, so it has a superb time-telling sense. Hoothoot will always hoot at the same time every day, but different Hoothoot hoot at different times of day, a phenomenon that Pokémon scientists are still researching. Noctowl are excellent night hunters because of their intelligence and good eyesight. Although Noctowl are normal/flying type Pokémon, they have some psychic abilities. Noctowl can better channel these powers while sitting still, so when they perch for hours, they aren’t being lazy: they’re preparing their powers for a successful night of hunting.

As one would expect, grass type Pokémon are abundant in any forest, especially Viridian Forest. Oddish are abundant in the forest, but you often will not see them because Oddish and their brethren, Gloom and Vileplume, only fully emerge from the ground at night. During the day, Oddish looks like any other leafy ground plant, but if you tug on its leaves, it makes a horrible screeching noise. You should run before Vileplume come out of the ground to use their poisonous powder on you. Gloom remain underground during the day too, but their odd, round flower is much more conspicuous. Gloom drools a sweet but incredibly smelly honey. Only the most adventurous trainers have tried Gloom’s scrumptious saliva, but they all report to have loved it. Vileplume is unmistakable even during the day because its flower looks like a huge rafflesia, and it emits a rotten meat smell. Vileplume, Gloom and Oddish emerge at night to moonbathe in forest clearings, although no one understands why. These Pokémon compete for the biggest, brightest clearings with Ledyba and Ledian, who also seek to gather in the moonlight.

The Bellsprout line of Pokémon is one of the deadliest in the forest. Bellsprout live all over the forest, but they live most densely in the deepest, hottest portions of the forest. It uses its vines not only to tap water from the ground but also to catch its bug Pokémon prey. Once it catches an unfortunate target, the Bellsprout will use its acidic saliva to digest the bug. While Bellsprout hunts from below, its evolution Weepinbell hunts from above. Weepinbell has a hook-like appendage on the back of its bell that it uses to hang from trees. Any bug Pokémon that crawls near a hanging Weepinbell will get cut up by its razor-sharp leaves before being digested in its acid-filled mouth. If you thought Weepinbell sounded scary, you’ll pass out at the thought of Victreebell. In the deepest, most dangerous parts of the forest, Victreebell live in huge colonies. They lure in their prey using their cat-toy-like vines and sweet-smelling saliva, before eating and digesting them whole. Victreebell colonies clear the area of prey so fast that they regularly shift locations so that prey numbers can improve. No trainer has ever entered a Victreebell colony and left alive; a few risked their lives to get a far away photo of a foreboding colony.

Unlike the last two evolutionary lines, the Bulbasaur line is a rare but welcome sight in Viridian Forest. Bulbasaur has a large bulb-like seed on its back that needs plenty of water and sunlight to grow. Bulbasaur live by riverbanks, where they can nap in the sun and drink plenty of water. Bulbasaur’s seed provides all the nutrients that it needs to survive, so you won’t see it eat much plant matter. Bulbasaur’s pretty green color helps it blend in with the riverbank grass to protect it from predators. Although Bulbasaur are too big for a single predator to kill, they are small enough that a swarm of Beedrill or Pidgeotto could take one down. In Ivysaur, the seed has opened up, but the flower inside is still closed and growing. Ivysaur grow stocky with thick legs to support their growing weight. They too like to nap in the sun along the river with fellow Bulbasaur. If a Bulbasaur is in danger, Ivysaur will attack the predator with vines or charge at it like a battering ram. Venusaur are so rare in Viridian forest that seeing one is a special experience. The flower on its back has finally bloomed, and it emits a sweet-smelling pollen that attracts and soothes other Pokémon as well as encourages plant growth. A Venusaur will often have a small colony of Pokémon such as Bulbasaur, Pikachu and Pidgey surrounding it for protection. The Venusaur that are native to Viridian Forest are different from the Venusaur that evolve from the Bulbasaur given out as starter Pokémon, although the first starter Bulbasaur came from Viridian Forest. Wild Venusaur are more green in color and have five-petaled flowers while starter Venusaur are more blue and have six-petaled flowers. A green color provides more camouflage in the forest. Nobody is certain about the change in petal number, but some scientists believe that the comfort of living with Pokémon trainers allowed starter Venusaur to support an extra petal on their flower. That flower takes a lot of food and sunbathing to feed!

The most iconic Pokémon that live in Viridian Forest are Pikachu and their evolution, Raichu. Pikachu act as a lightning rod for the forest by channeling lightning strikes through their bodies so that trees aren’t damaged or set on fire. Pikachu loves to eat berries. They can eat even the hardest berries because their electric shocks can cook and soften them easily. If you see a bush with lots of burnt leaves and berries, you know that Pikachu have been there. Pikachu are very social Pokémon that live in groups. They share their electricity with others by discharging it from their squishy cheek sacs. Pikachu were originally native to Viridian Forest, but adoring trainers have introduced them in small populations in Pokémon gardens and safari zones across the Pokémon world. Raichu is Pikachu’s evolved form. There are so few Raichu in Viridian Forest because they need a thunderstone to evolve. Thunderstones rarely occur naturally; they are created when exposed quartz or other crystals are struck by lightning. Some especially clever Pikachu who have seen this process occur will use their tail to direct lightning to exposed crystal to create a thunderstone that they can use to evolve. Raichu discharge their excess electricity into the ground. If you see blackened patches of ground in the forest, Raichu is the cause. Stored electricity causes Raichu to glow softly at night. Some Pokémon like Oddish or Ledian use sleeping Raichu as landmarks on their way to moonlit clearings.

Viridian Forest is full of amazing Pokémon who play many different roles in the forest ecosystem. I did not even discuss Hoenn and Sinnoh native Pokémon with small populations there such as Numel, Nuzleaf and Kricketot. If you find the opportunity, you should travel through some of Viridian Forest’s deeper hiking paths to see some of these Pokémon for yourself. Luckily, the trails go nowhere near any Victreebell colonies! I hope that all you Pokémon trainers enjoyed my in-depth analysis of the Viridian Forest ecosystem, and I look forward to writing for you again.