9

It was an old book... I'm pretty sure it was a book, and pre-1990's I think.

The basic plot was this man somehow interacted with this tree, and as a result he became a carrier of the tree's 'seed'. They were in a symbiotic relationship: the man got a much longer life, more strength, etc.; but when he did die the tree would grow up from his body.

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    Hmm. First thing that occurs is the Descolada virus. – DavidW Jul 7 at 2:13
  • From Enders Game universe... yes, it does sound a little similar, but this well predates that, and the system is different. – Vaughn Ohlman Jul 7 at 2:14
  • This is not your book, but Brian Aldiss's 1962 novel 'Hothouse' features a sentient fungus which has a symbiotic relationship with animals - it sticks to their head and gives them much greater intelligence. I vaguely remember that it's explained that humans, back when humans existed, all carried this fungus, then when the climate got hotter, they lost it, and humanity reverted to a feral state. – Tom Anderson Jul 7 at 12:11
  • I don't know the story, but the description made me think of the Summerisle Tree Song from The Wicker Man. youtube.com/watch?v=cYLRRrfPJ1s – Pete Jul 7 at 23:32
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It's not a book, but "Hybrid", a short story by Keith Laumer which was the answer to this old question, matches your description pretty well. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1961, which you can read at the Internet Archive. You might have read it in one of these compilations.

"The Yanda have a very strange reproductive cycle. In an emergency, the spores released by the male tree can be implanted in almost any warm-blooded creature and carried in the body for an indefinite length of time. When the host animal mates, the dormant spores come into play. The offspring appears perfectly normal; in fact, the spore steps in and corrects any defects in the individual, repairs injuries, fights disease, and so on; and the life-span is extended; but eventually, the creature goes through the metamorphosis, roots, and becomes a regular male Yanda tree — instead of dying of old age."

[. . . .]

"We made a deal. The Yanda gave me this — " Pantelle pressed a thumb against the steel bulkhead. The metal yielded.

" — and a few other tricks. In return, I'm host to the Yanda spores."

[. . . .]

Gault considered Pantelle's remarks.

"What about these 'proper conditions' for the spores?" he asked suddenly. "You wake up and find yourself sprouting some morning?"

"Well," Pantelle coughed. "That's where my part of the deal comes in. A host creature transmits the spores through the normal mating process. The offspring gets good health and a long life before the metamorphosis. That's not so bad — to live a hundred years, and then pick a nice spot to root and grow and watch the seasons turn . . ."

Gault considered. "A man does get tired," he said. "I know a spot, where you can look for miles out across the Pacific . . ."

"So I've promised to be very active," Pantelle said. "It will take a lot of my time, but I intend to discharge my obligation to the fullest."

Did you hear that, Yanda? Pantelle asked silently.

I did, came the reply from the unused corner he had assigned to the Yanda ego-pattern. Our next thousand years should be very interesting.

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  • Classic KL. Sexism in the service of SF. – Ross Presser Jul 7 at 13:25
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    @RossPresser What's sexist about it? All the characters involved are male, from what I can tell. – nick012000 Jul 7 at 15:06
  • @nick012000 "A host creature transmits the spores through the normal mating process" and "I've promised to be very active". Pantelle intends to have as much sex as he can. – Ross Presser Jul 7 at 15:35

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