Friday, November 16, 2012

Plants of the Swordfish Islands - Part II

Lotuses in White Rock Spring

Write-ups for plants has continued. Ideally each plant could be easily added to your own world, and  there should be "just-enough" info to whet your imagination.

Click here if you missed The Plants of the Swordfish Islands - Part I and hop below the break for 15 more plants in Part II.

Dripping Tree
The Dripping Tree has dark brown bark, large leathery leaves, and grows as tall as 30'. Its branches only grow from the very top of the trunk and spread out almost horizontally, much like the cap of a mushroom, to shade an area 10' to 20' in diameter. The roots of a Dripping Tree spread and twist through the ground almost as far as the branches above and are almost always covered in thick mats of other vegetation like Ferns, Tickleweed, and Jellymoss. Numerous cream colored spheres, 10" in diameter, cling to the branches are the source of the tree's name. Special nodules on the roots of this tree detect movement, warmth and pressure causing the globes directly above the triggered area to fall. The globes are filled with a viscous, sticky mucus and burst on contact, causing creatures hit with them to stick to the Dripping Tree's root clusters. When pressure is constantly applied to an area of roots, the branches above it begin to slowly drip a sticky, acidic, digestive mucus onto the area below. This mucus melts through flesh and bones like butter. Small creatures, such as lemurs and tabibari can be dissolved in as little as a day, while larger creatures and humanoids may take up to 72 hours to be broken down into nutrients.

Snapping Grass
Snapping Grass grows as a clump, or tuft of dark green, dagger shaped leaves, 4" to 6" tall. Six to twelve stalks, each 8" to 10" high grow from the center of these leaves. A pair of hinged, diamond shaped leaves of bright fuchsia, rimmed in spikes sits at the top of each stalk. These stalks sway constantly, as if moved by a gentle breeze. It is unclear how exactly Snapping Grass hunts, but the moving stalks are able to bend, lunge and snap up small creatures with exceptional accuracy. While this plant subsists almost entirely on a diet of small vermin and birds, some adventurers have reported that some clumps of Snapping Grass will lunge and shiny or sparkling objects like rings and gems.

Pygmy King Flower
The Pygmy King Flower grows as a single, conical, leaf-like structure. This leaf-structure is never larger than 1' in diameter, 2' tall, and always brightly colored. The flowers vary greatly in color, but solid orange and blue with yellow spots are the most common colors here on the Swordfish Islands. Nectar fills at least half of each pit shaped flower and when exposed to sunlight this liquid releases a sweet, sugary fragrance. Small creatures and large insects are attracted to this smell but upon entering the flower they are trapped by its slippery walls and slowly digested. When a Pygmy King Flower finished digesting a meal, or becomes over filled (such as after a heavy rain) the flower will tilt and dump its contents onto the jungle floor then slowly right itself once more. The tiny mold men of the Northern Ruins prize the Pygmy King Flower and seem to use these brightly colored leaves as hats to denote some sort of crude, tribal, status.

Rainbow Petals
Rainbow Petals, or Color Spikes, grow as a stout, relatively straight stem with triangular green leaves, and reaches a height of 4' to 8'. Many four-petaled flowers appear at the top of this stem forming a "terminal spike" of 12" to 16". The flowers of the Rainbow Petal can appear as any color, including shades of blue and green, and individual petals will even grow in different colors on the same flower. The petals of these flowers are thick, fleshy, and surprisingly nutritious. They are frequently boiled into a thick and flavorful poridge or dried and used in place of bread crumbs or cornmeal on fried food. If eaten raw, a single spike of Rainbow Petals can sustain a normal sized human for a full day.

Jelly Moss
It is said that when a representative of the Martel Company took the first samples of Jelly Moss, or Ogre Snot, back to the Royal College it nearly caused a riot among the academics. The resident sages were unable to conclusively determine if this clump of grayish-purple tube-like structures, smelling a bit like rotten pears was a plant or a fungus. The faculty became divided. Sides were taken, venomous rhetoric was exchanged, and longstanding friendships were laid to waste. Then, at the very peak of what became known as "The Semester of Slime" Professor Chet inadvertently discovered a use for the stuff when he sat down on a sample and his robe became fused to his wooden chair. It was known that Jelly Moss, when crushed, becomes very messy and sticky, but despite all the arguments and investigation, no one had realized this goo would create and almost instant, permanent, bond of incredible strength with wood. The battle of classification now transformed into a full blown war between the Blacksmith's Guild and the Carpenter's over the future of nails.

Constrictor Vine
Instead of growing up to seek light, the Constrictor Vine spreads out across the ground as a thick mat of small, glossy leaves. The plant blooms occasionally with unremarkable clusters of small green flowers that give way to oblong yellow berries favored by birds and small animals. While the leaf mat of the Constrictor Vine rarely reaches more than 10' in diameter its root system can stretch as far as 50'. The fiberious roots of a Constrictor Vine resemble the pale hair of a drowned woman, are incredibly strong, and retain much of this strength even after being harvested and dried. As the roots grow, they wrap themselves around rocks, root systems, and anything else in their path. When the roots reach ~30' to ~50' they begin to slowly, yet inexorably constrict back towards the core of the plant. This constriction has been known to topple whole trees and move many ton boulders.

Sleeping Ivy
This woody, vine with golden, spade shaped leaves growing in fan shaped clusters of three or five is a true climber, often reaching 30' to 40'. The blooms of Sleeping Ivy are blue-violet colored tufts, or balls, which become covered in an extremely fine yellowish powder. A rash of tiny, fluid filled blisters will form on any skin 1-4 hours after contact. Despite its "angry" appearance, the inflamed area is not painful and does not itch, but instead will tingle numbly. After becoming exposed to Sleeping Ivy a victim will become more lethargic and harder to wake from sleep. At first the lethargy brought on by exposure may be so slight as to be unnoticeable, but it will increase in intensity each day it goes untreated. On the seventh day of untreated exposure the victim will fall asleep (quite peacefully) and never wake again. To treat Sleeping Ivy, the inflamed area must be bathed in alcohol. The higher the proof, the more rapid the recovery.

Cave Lily
The Cave Lily, or Cave Star, with its dark, glossy foliage and fragrant white flowers, can be found growing on the ceilings of caves throughout the Swordfish Islands. It is unknown how a plant growing upside down and blooming only in darkness can spread with such profusion, but it is more uncommon to find a cave without these lilies than with them. The roots of the Cave Star grow above ground, forming brittle clumps of tube like structures resembling tangled skeins of grey yarn. Cave Lily blossoms absorb humidity from the air keeping the caves in which they are found surprisingly cool and pleasant. It is said that if a drop of nectar falls naturally from the bloom of a Cave Lily and is caught upon the tongue it will grant visions of the past or future.

Hidden Hibiscus
A large, woody, flowering shrub, the Hidden Hibiscus grows from 6' to 8' high, and as much as 10' wide. The blooms of the hibiscus are large (easily the size of a human hand), plentiful, and many colored. Bloom colors are typically red with yellow ribs, or pink with dark red ribs, but some sages claim there are thousands of different color combinations and variations. If a Hidden Hibiscus is threatened, or detects rapid movement nearby, any blooms on the bush immediately change their color to drab greens and browns, and the entire plant appears to wilt and wither. Skilled alchemists use the roots of the Hidden Hibiscus to amplify their creations that aid in natural camouflage, but the blooms of the hibiscus are its true prize as they can be used to dramatically increase both physical and mental speed for short periods of time. Only brightly colored blooms can be used in these speed increasing concoctions, and once a Hidden Hibiscus changes the color of one of its blooms, they never change back.

Witchweave Palm Tree
A single Witchweave Palm Tree is comprised of three to five trunks, 10" to 12" in diameter, that grow in tight clusters and can reach 25' to 50' in height. The fronds of a mature Witchweave are approximately 3' long before splitting into 7 to 10 pale green leaves with drooping, fibrous tips that grow for another 2' to 3'. It is the numerous white fibers, resembling hair, appearing in the splits of the leaf tips that give the Witchweave its name. These leaves are prized by the Lizardfolk natives of the Swordfish Islands who harvest, dry and process them into rope and rough cloth. The Witchweave blooms with small yellow flowers that give way to oblong, reddish fruit about the size of a human thumb. If the fruits are dried, wrapped in fresh green Witchweave leaves and burned, a thick, deep blue smoke with a sweet, musky odor is produced. This smoke acts as a potent anesthetic to exposed flesh, and the Lizardfolk are known to fill tents and lodges with it for both medical and spiritual reasons. It is rumored that some of the Lizardfolk's powerful shaman are able to refine the fruit of the Witchweave even further to create potent healing salves and unguents, but if true, these secrets are highly guarded.

Quickweed grows as a series of short, flat, silvery leaf blades along a single root runner, and is so named because it completes its entire life cycle in a single week. A living/growing end and a decaying/dying end is clearly visible on each root runner, and with patient observation it is possible to watch the root grow and die in real time. The grass always grows in a single direction along its root causing entire fields of Quickweed to appear to migrate around islands, like a wave, as time goes by. Alchemists prize Quickweed as it amplifies concoctions related to time, speed and travel.

Juxi Root
A lumpy, tuber like root, that some swear grows to resemble a pig, Juxi Root is prized by the culinarily conscious. Eaten raw, this tuber has a crisp, sweet flavor but chefs the world over dry it and grind it into a fine powder used to spice and flavor foods, much like cinnamon. Juxi Root grows bright red, trumpet shaped flowers, and can be found in abundance throughout the Swordfish Islands.

Poznan's Chain
Poznan's Chain is a soft-wooded clinging vine armed with white, pearlescent spines, 2" to 3" in length that alternate the entire length of the vine with leathery leaves. These vines are typically only found growing on sheer cliff faces or the most opulent ruined buildings. While a single chain will usually run for 20' to 50' and spread to cover an area of about 200 square feet, some vines are purported to reach 100' or more and cover thousands of square feet with their leaves and thorns. The thorns of Poznan's Chain secrete a virulent poison that causes internal organs to violently rupture and hemorrhage, leading to a bloody death in as little as 20 to 30 minutes. Curiously, if this poison is collected and taken more than 5' from the vine it immediately becomes water. Some claim that Poznan's Chain can produce large, silvery, metallic, star-like blooms, but these reports have never been verified.

The Dark: Poznan's Chain was brought to the Swordfish Islands from the fabled realm of Ysgarde. The vine possesses a minor form of awareness that responds in the presence of people or events it considers to be "GLORIOUS!" (e.g., Epic Storms, Timeless Loves, Heroic Sacrifice, Crazy Magic, Brütal Battles). If Poznan's Chain is exposed to, or in the presence of something that meets this criteria it beings to glow, grow and bloom with flowers of steel. The large, star-shaped steel blooms will release seven drops of nectar, a mouthfull of which will return the dead to life. The chain has no natural predators, cannot burn, and cannot die unless it chooses to. Poznan's Chain values the brave, strong and valorous and will never let someone it considers to exhibit these traits be harmed by its poison. Spine Dragons are the only creatures that feed upon the vines, and they do so with its permission.

Flint Moss
A dark grey moss, dotted with small flecks of rust-brown, Flint Moss is commonly found in area of thermal activity, or piles of scree. The moss requires fire to spread its seeds, and will ignite from even the smallest sparks. A 3" cube of Flint Moss will burn for 3 to 4 hours and put off flame comparable to a normal sized camp fire. The moss growing on piles of rubble or loose rock is the most dangerous as friction from shifting stones can cause the rust-colored flecks to produce sparks, turning what was once a moss covered mound of debris into a raging inferno.

Although Tickleweed grows as a thick, grass-like carpet of cylindrical dark green leaf-blades, 3"-4" in length, unlike normal grasses, Tickleweed prefers to grow on nearly vertical surfaces and will even thrive in dark places, assuming there is ample moisture. The cylindrical leaf-blades are highly sensitive to even the most subtle shifts in ambient temperature so they move and shift continually. Tickleweed stretches towards increases in temperature and away from decreases. Each leaf moves independently causing the plants to appear to ripple and shiver with waves. Even the simple act of walking past a patch of Tickleweed will trigger a flurry of movement. Tickleweed blooms seldom with circular flowers of red or white with a central black "eye". The flowers are prized by alchemists as they amplify concoctions related to detection, reaction, and rapid, fluid movement.


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