Ah, the second Pokéblog. I have kept you waiting long enough. Today… we shall discuss Turtwig, Grotle, and Torterra; the grass starters of 4th Gen.
Before I start, I highly recommend checking out the article on Bulbapedia about these three! (Here:
I will do my best not to overlap too much with the preexisting article, but I will reference it a little for starting points and deep… deep thought.
Turtwig and its evolutions are interesting Pokémon! Not that most Pokémon are not interesting, but these three have some cool back-ground (See what I did there? “Back” + “Ground?” Cause it has soil on its back…. Nevermind). “Turtwig” is naturally a combination of “turtle” and “twig,” and those characteristics are seen in its shell and the small seedling growing on its head. Grotle is a combination of “grove” and “turtle.” I also think “grow” is in there as well as Grotle has plants on its back that can bear fruit and seeds that other Pokémon eat! Finally, Torterra is a combination of “tortoise” and “terra” or Earth.
Now that the ground work is laid (I should stop with the earth based puns…Before I soil myself *rimshot*), there are some interesting analogies with Turtwig and its evolutions. The Bulbapedia article goes into great detail about the World Turtle concept (so go read that because it’s cool), but what about the parts of Turtwig and Torterra are based on other concepts?
Bulbapedia pulls the following from the Diamond/Pearl Pokédex on Turtwig: “Made from soil, the shell on its back hardens when it drinks water.” From the Black/White Pokédex: “On a very healthy Turtwig, the shell should feel moist.”
When you pick up dirt and fling it at a Pokémon in an effort to anger it into staying in a Safari Ball (that makes less sense when I type it out), you are likely throwing around an entire ecosystem of organisms. That same ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, insects, and worms lives on the back of Turtwig and its evolutions. For soil (and subsequently Turtwig) to be healthy, a number of processes must take place. Nutrients must be exchanged, components must be broken down, and all the Pokémon must be captured and trained. That list derailed a bit, but you get my point. Turtwig has the same ecosystem on its back keeping its shell hard in exchange for Turtwig making sure the organisms on its back get plenty of sun and water!
The soil on its back should be moist if the ecosystem is functioning properly. Soil that is too dry cracks and is subject to eroding by wind and rain very easily, while soil that is too wet (some scientists refer to saturated soil as mud) cannot support organisms or anchor plant life to the ground very well. As with all things… there is a balance. And with most soil, including the shell of Turtwig, that balance is achieved when the soil is kept healthy and moist.
What happens to land when it is cultivated properly? For those of you who played Animal Crossing, you know that you can plant bags of money and obtain money trees in return. For the rest of you, properly cultivated land yields better growth of plants as crops have access to soil packed full of nutrients, water, and enough wiggle room for roots. If King Arthur had simply evolved his Turtwig in Spamalot, he would not have had to run all over the countryside looking for a shrub. Turtwig’s shell is preparing itself to be able to handle a larger organism, and, upon evolving, Grotle’s shell (still composed of dirt) can support shrubs!
Sometimes Grotle will even roll around in dirt and mud to allow new minerals and nutrients to seep into its shell. This behavior is a slight callback to actions by other reptiles. Turtwig, Grotle, and Torterra are likely ectotherms like Bulbasaur. Turtwig are just as likely to lay out in the sun to soak up solar energy for photosynthesis as they are to roll around in the mud. Some reptiles, like frogs, will burrow into the earth to hibernate. Being surrounded by dirt serves two purposes, first, the cold-blooded organisms can avoid dying in extremely cold weather, and they can also avoid predators. During hot seasons, coating the body with mud and dirt also helps control the body temperature and lock in moisture. Grotle rolling around in the dirt accomplishes all of the aforementioned goals while replenishing the soil on its back (similar to rotational cropping to stop from depleting the soil). The fresh soil keeps the plants on its back healthy which reciprocates energy back to Grotle!
Torterra… truly the epitome of the World Turtle. The basic sprite of Torterra has a small tree and a whole lawn growing on Torterra’s shell! It is really quite impressive. One could easily mistake a herd of roving Torterra for a moving forest (and you are likely to make the same mistake with a group of Exeggutor dancing about).
With trees come natural habits and shelter for smaller Pokémon. Torterra’s specie name is “The Continental Pokémon.” It does not share this name with the legendary Pokémon, Groudon, by coincidence. The average Torterra is about seven feet long and weighs over 600 lbs! That is plenty of real estate for other Pokémon to make temporary summer homes on its shell. The actions of other Pokémon coming to reside on Torterra for any period of time not only goes back to the World Turtle theory discussed in the Bulbapedia article, it is also a callback to a larger ecosystem. It is fortunate for those smaller Pokémon that Torterra is so docile. If he were more shrewd, he would at least charge them rent.
So there you have it. Turtwig, Grotle, and Torterra. From the little sapling on Turtwig’s head to the super spruce on Torterra’s shell, these Pokémon are true powerhouses. Look no further for some of the healthiest soil in Sinnoh; everything you need for a great Pokémon with expanding real estate is right here.