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Author Topic: Starstem Grass  (Read 1080 times)
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Pataabi
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« on: 27 July 2014, 05:20:18 »

Well, here it is. First (attempted) entry. I had to go back and rewrite the appearance section, as I realized I was using too modern terminology - I doubt Santharians know what a rhizome is, after all... Not too confident about how it reads after the change, I feel like it reads rather choppy. I tried to stick to British spellings as well, but, as I am not British, I may have missed some of them.

Categorization:
Herbarium>Grass

Ubiquitous on the Grasslands of Hylach, Starstem is a short, delicate grass that is considered quite attractive, as far as grass grows. It is highly desired by the horse breeders of Courtford for its high nutritional content and the real and perceived health benefits it confers to the horses. There is also a minor trade of Starstem sod, primarily between settlements on and surrounding the Hylach, as it does not travel well.

Appearance:
Starstem is a dainty looking plant, being quite thin and growing up to 1/3 ped long, but is structurally sturdy, with a stiff, purplish sheath that keeps individual blades from being blown over in the often fierce winds of the Grasslands. The blades, generally numbering 3-4, taper to a thin point and 'droop' to one side, pointing their fronts skyward and exposing as much of itself to the sunshine as possible. It is distinguished by its dark colour, a greyish green that remains vibrant even in the depths of winter, when its neighbours have paled to an occasionally sickly pallor. The seed heads cluster in groups of four spikes at the tip of the blade, with each spike being 2-3 nailsbreadths long, while the florets grow in small spikelets along each blade in groups of 3 or 4.

The Starstem's root system is deep and wide, greedy for whatever water and nutrients it can hoard, and during droughts can extend up to 2 peds deep. It has developed a two-tiered root system, consisting of the larger, tougher primary system, and the auxiliary, which consists of many smaller, softer and more delicate roots that grow haphazardly down, seeking nutrients. As a rather aggressive species, its auxiliary system can often be found entwined with the roots of neighbouring grasses, trying to crowd out its neighbours, at which it often temporarily succeeds at, until the next period of instability causes it to regress. Even in the harshest conditions, Starstem can effectively lay dormant, as long as its primary root system can retain enough nutrients and water to survive until conditions topside can improve.

Despite its outward fragility, Starstem is quite hardy. Even when patches die, due to unseasonal rains (when the grass over-saturates itself, killing off most of its auxiliary root system and blades) extended droughts and extreme wind, the primary root system remains. Experienced horse breeders of the Hylach will point to a 'dead' patch of grass, and bring you back to it in a few days, where Starstem will have sprouted anew.

Territory:
Starstem is native to the Grasslands of Hylach were it serves as an important pillar for the local horse breeding industry. Because of its nutritional density it has been transplanted to other pastures in Southern and Northern Sarvonia, but these experiments are more often failures or yield less than desirable results - the Starstem is well adapted to its homeland, and little else.

Why Starstem is so particular to the Hylach is a subject of much speculation. One of the more popular reasons put forward is that Starstem grew as a mutation from its neighbour species, Strongrass, after Gnomes (or alchemists; the guilty party often changes depending on whom one is asking) discarded waste from a failed experiment aiming to create plants that could grow in the desert. A less popular one, but one with somewhat more scholarly support, is that Starstem is the descendant of grass affected by magic during the War of the Chosen.

Perhaps the most commonly believed, if not the most commonly shared theory is that Starstem was created by Jeyriall for the Hylach, saddened after seeing how little grew. She created a grass that was both pleasing and healthy to the creatures that lived there and decreed that, because they had lived in a harsh land without complaint, Starstem would be their's, and their's alone.


Uses:
Incredibly nutritious and boasting a myriad of (sometimes far-fetched) health benefits, Starstem is favoured by horse breeders and ranches. Courtford in particular has what could be called a love affair with the grass, and some intrepid breeders have tried various ways to encourage its growth at the expense of others. Some have harvested strips of sod to transplant to other areas, and while this has proven more successful than attempting to grow Starstem from seed in new pastures, it hasn't exploded into the lucrative market these entrepreneurs had envisioned.

Some of the health benefits attributed to the grass includes;
- Increased endurance
- Greater strength
- Healthier coats
- Healthier offspring and easier pregnancies
- Greater intelligence
- Increased obedience
- Any number of more obscure benefits, often depending on who one is asking
While the benefits are often overstated, the horses bred in Courtford are often said to have truly magnificent coats and to be quite easy to train... though the latter may simply be a product of the horse breeder's experience and the animal's contentedness with the sweet grass. It cannot be said if any of the other benefits are true or not, but, at the very least, many people believe in them.

Reproduction:
Starting in the early summer the florets of the male plants begin producing their pollen, which is then blown about by the wind. The grass will continue to produce pollen until the fall, provided there are enough nutrients and water, about which time the seed heads - fertilized, or unfertilized - drop off and are blown along the ground or through the air. The animals that graze the grasslands also play an important role in seed dispersal, if not the primary one, spreading seeds through their dung. Indeed, most Santharian horticulturists agree that, nowadays at least, Starstem is dispersed primarily by animals, rather than the wind.

Importance:
Starstem is a cornerstone of the Hylach's health, and an important part of Courtford's horse breeding industry. The men of Courtford realize that the health of their horses, and by extension their livelihood, hinges on the overall health of the grasslands and specifically that of the grasses their stock feeds on. The Starstem in particular is, as stated before, highly desirable, to the point where herdsman often gauge the potential success of the coming year by the health of the plant.

Myth/Lore:
‘Everyone knows’ that Starstem is named as such because of its star shaped stem. This is demonstrably not true, as the grass lacks any peculiar stem shape, and the actual origin of the name remained a mystery many years. The true origin of the name comes from the previously mentioned tale, wherein Jeyriall gifted the plant to the animals of the Hylach. In the old local dialect, the word 'star' was used to refer to anything celestial or relating to the gods, while 'stem' comes from a word pronounced as 'staam', which was a catch-all term for grasses, grains and moss. Star staam, in the old dialects, could be taken to mean 'grass from the sky' or 'grass from the gods'.
« Last Edit: 01 August 2014, 23:47:59 by Artimidor Federkiel » Logged
Artimidor Federkiel
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« Reply #1 on: 28 July 2014, 15:09:22 »

Ok, here we go with comments!

Corrections/additions in yellow
Comments in orange

Overview
Ubiquitous on the Grasslands of Hylach, Starstem is a short, delicate grass that is considered quite attractive, as far as grass grows. It is highly desired by the horse breeders of Courtford for its high nutritional content and the perceived health benefits it confers to the horses. (I would suggest to add another sentence or two at the Overview, a few more basic details can't hurt, e.g. regarding the uses. Overviews are also put on Overview pages where you have for example all grasses listed, and we should aim for a certain basic amount of data put there in order to compare these plants better and with a single glance.)

Appearance
Starstem is a dainty looking plant, being quite thin and growing up to 1/3 ped long, but is structurally sturdy, with a stiff, purplish sheath that keeps individual blades from being blown over in the often fierce winds of the Grasslands. The blades, generally numbering 3-4, taper to a thin point and 'droop' to one side, pointing their fronts skyward and exposing as much of itself to the sunshine as possible. It is distinguished by its dark colour (British spelling here), a greyish (also the 'e' looks more ancient) green that remains vibrant even in the depths of winter, when its neighbours (and again) have paled to an occasionally sickly pallor. The seed heads cluster in groups of four spikes at the tip of the blade, with each spike being 2-3 nailsbreadths long, while the florets grow in small spikelets along each blade in groups of 3 or 4.

The Starstem's root system is deep and wide, greedy for whatever water and nutrients it can hoard, and during droughts can extend up to 2 peds deep. It has developed a two-tiered root system, consisting of the larger, tougher primary system, and the auxiliary, which consists of many smaller, softer and more delicate roots that grow haphazardly down, seeking nutrients. As a rather aggressive species, its auxiliary system can often be found entwined with the roots of neighbouring grasses, trying to crowd out its neighbours, at which it often temporarily succeeds at, until the next period of instability causes it to regress. Even in the harshest conditions, Starstem can effectively lay dormant, as long as its primary root system can retain enough nutrients and water to survive until conditions topside can improve.

Despite its outward fragility, Starstem is quite hardy. Even when patches die, due to unseasonal rains (when the grass over-saturates itself, killing off most of its auxiliary root system and blades) extended droughts and extreme wind, the primary root system remains. Experienced horse breeders of the Hylach will point to a 'dead' patch of grass, and bring you back to it in a few days, where Starstem will have sprouted anew.

Territory
Starstem is native to the Grasslands of Hylach were it serves as an important pillar for the local horse breeding industry. Because of its nutritional density it has been transplanted to other pastures in Southern and Northern Sarvonia, but these experiments are more often failures or yield less than desirable results - the Starstem is well adapted to its homeland, and little else.

Uses
Incredibly nutritious and boasting a myriad of (sometimes far-fetched) health benefits, Starstem is favoured (British spelling again here...) by horse breeders and ranches. Courtford in particular has what could be called a love affair with the grass, and some intrepid breeders have tried various ways to encourage its growth at the expense of others. Some have harvested strips of sod to transplant them to other areas, and while this has proven more successful than attempting to grow Starstem from seed in new pastures, it hasn't exploded into the lucrative market these entrepreneurs had envisioned.

Some of the health benefits attributed to the grass include:
- Increased endurance
- Greater strength
- Healthier coats
- Healthier offspring and easier pregnancies
- Greater intelligence
- Increased obedience
- Any number of more obscure benefits, often depending on who one is asking

While the benefits are often overstated, the horses bred in Courtford are often said to have truly magnificent coats and to be quite easy to train... though the latter may simply be a product of the horse breeder's experience and the animal's contentedness with the sweet grass. It cannot be said if any of the other benefits are true or not, but, at the very least, many people believe in them.

Reproduction
Starting in the early summer the florets of the male plants begin producing their pollen, which is then blown about by the wind. The grass will continue to produce pollen until the fall, provided there are enough nutrients and water, about which time the seed heads - fertilized, or unfertilized - drop off and are blown along the ground or through the air. The animals that graze the grasslands also play an important role in seed dispersal, if not the primary one, spreading seeds through their dung. Indeed, most Santharian horticulturists agree that, nowadays at least, Starstem is dispersed primarily by animals, rather than the wind.

Importance
Starstem is a cornerstone of the Hylach's ecology (also a rather modern word, maybe try to rephrase that), and an important part of Courtford's horsebreeding industry. The men of Courtford realize that the health of their horses, and by extension their livelihood, hinges on the overall health of the grasslands and specifically that of the grasses their stock feeds on. The Starstem in particular is, as stated before, highly desirable, to the point where herdsman often gauge the potential success of the coming year by the health of the plant.



Okeydokey, Pataabi, entry looks basically fine for a first attempt :) There are a couple of smaller corrections of course, and there's the British spelling to which no need to get used a bit, but other than that it looks good. A nice plant that makes sense in the Courtford context, and as I see this one was mentioned already in the Grasslands of Hylach entry, it's good to see a reference being developed into a full-fledged entry. Aura +1 at any rate for your first contribution which you managed to deliver pretty fast, Pataabi!

One more thing perhaps: The crux for entries in a fantasy world like ours is always to add a little touch of that fantasy universe, so that it doesn't turn into a botany lesson only. Doesn't need to be a big thing, but usually it helps to add e.g. some lore to an entry, and it doesn't necessarily need to be based on facts. In this case we have a plant that doesn't really grow elsewhere than Hylach, so you might make some speculations why that is so.

Suggestion: Could be that the plant originated perhaps from an experiment of gnomes (or at least ist believed to be the case), maybe even a failed one (gnome trying to make a potion to increase endurance, intelligence, whatever). Say, some substances were thrown away, and then regular grass changed its appearance after a while, and the grass was eventually born with all the properties the potion was supposed to have. Moving it elsewhere fails for whatever reason, and nobody really knows exactly why, but rumour abounds that it has to do with such an experiment. That's just an idea of couse :)
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Pataabi
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« Reply #2 on: 29 July 2014, 17:33:54 »

Bear with me on the British spelling, please, I'm not used to it, and even on the rare occasions that I slow down and think about it, my word processor tells me I'm wrong.

Changes are in pink! Mostly grammar and spelling, also added some speculation under the territory heading about why the grass only grows in the Gulch. Also added a lore section, explaining the origin of the name. Not sure if it's acceptable or not, though, but a correction is only a click away!
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Artimidor Federkiel
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« Reply #3 on: 30 July 2014, 15:27:28 »

Very well done, Pataabi! I really can't find anything wrong with the entry now, it all fits together nicely and has also a couple of further specific Santharian references added, and that's just how it should be. The dialect additions also shouldn't pose any problem, even though we of course don't know anything about it except this reference, but it serves the purpose pretty well to get the point across. :) So methinks this can already marked for integration unless someone else has further comments.

Not sure when the next update will be, though - let's see when Seeker can make finishing touches to his picture, and we can dig out some other pics to integrate, so I'll see to it that an update will be uploaded more sooner than later... If you have further entry ideas, Pataabi, feel free to try your hand on another one, you already got the knack how to do it! Good stuff!  thumbup
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« Reply #4 on: 03 August 2014, 08:50:07 »

Looks good to me too Pataabi.  I was going to comment about the origin of the name but I see you have added that to the Lore section.  Well done.  A good entry even if it is just grass.  But I guess for the horses it is not just grass,  IT IS DINNER.

I see I am already behind on your entries.  If I am not mistaken I see an entry on Moss as well.  

Aura +1 just for livening up the boards.   thumbup
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