THE ACORN GRASS

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

Acorn Grass is an important plant of the Alianian Hills, where it is primarily found. Its range extends along the coast of the Adanian Sea as far as the town of Veltin, where further spread is restricted by drier, cooler climates to the north. On the Alianian Hills, thick stands of Acorn Gass carpet the ground, whereas further north between Istarin and Veltin, it is only found sporadically on windswept hillsides and only reaches half its potential height of 4 fores. It grows in a thick mat that holds soil in place even on the steepest slopes, which prevents soil from being washed away by the intense winds and rains that strike the Alianian Hills during the winter months. The diminutive residents of these hills, the Dogodan halflings, use the young, green leaves as forage for livestock in the spring, and in autumn, they harvest the fibrous stems of Acorn Grass to produce baskets and hats.

Appearance. The plant emerges in mid-spring, the leaves are light green in colour, and are tender and hairless. Leaves are 2 fores long and 1 nailsbreadth in width once they are fully elongated. For the first two months after emergence, Acorn Grass leaves are quite sweet, which makes them very palatable to livestock. As the plant matures through the drier summer months, the leaves lose some of their sweetness and turn a deep green colour, and the plant begins to produce wiry stems that possess a tough vein of tissue that runs down their length. This vein of tissue gives the stems good tensile strength that makes it withstand wear and renders it useful for the production of baskets and hats. The stems of the plant reach their greatest height late in the summer in the fertile soil of the Alianian Hills, standing at most 4 fores in height.

Acorn Grass thrives in the fertile soils of the Alianian Hills, which are situated between the Ancythrian and the Adanian Seas. The dryness that follows the rainy season – between late fall and mid-spring in this region – encourages the plant to flower and eventually go dormant. The flowers are small (less than 1 grain in length), wispy, and found at the tips of the stems. Through autumn, the stems turn a golden yellow, which drastically alters the appearance of the Alianian Hills, and the flowers produce seeds. It is at this point – just as the plant begins to flower – that the Dogodan hobbits will cut the Acorn Grass using sharp scythes to use the stems for baskets, garlands and other items. Unlike the flowers, the seeds are quite large (3 to 4 grains in diameter), and look like small acorns when viewed up close, even turning a dark brown colour by late autumn. It is the appearance of these seeds that gives Acorn Grass its name, and helps to reinforce the nickname - the Acornlands - given to the area in which it is found, though the area originally was called this due to the presence of the beautiful white oak trees.

Though the plant produces a long-lived root system, the roots can die back during the winter months. The Dogodan hobbits will purposely leave stretches of the Acorn Grass unharvested each year, to allow the plant to produce seeds that will help replenish portions of the stand that are sometimes killed by early summer frosts in some years. The stems that hold the seed heads upright become brittle during the winter so they break off, which causes the entire seed head to be tossed around in the wind. As the seed heads are thrown around, the seeds fall off the plant and are spread around.
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Territory. Found on the Southern Sarvonian continent, Acorn Grass grows primarily on the Alianian Hills, though it can be found along the coast of the Adanian Sea as far as the town of Veltin. It is unable to spread further north into cooler, less temperate climates, and drier soils and higher temperatures limit its southward spread.
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Usages. The Dogodan halflings use the young, green leaves to feed livestock in the spring, and they harvest the fibrous stems of Acorn Grass in the fall to produce baskets and hats. Humans in the area also use the stems for animal bedding during the winter months if straw is in short supply. Sometimes the seeds are roasted and salted as a snack, but they must be harvested late in the fall once they fully ripe and have lost their bitterness.
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Reproduction. The stems that hold the seed heads upright become brittle during the winter so they break off, which causes the entire seed head to be tossed around in the wind. The seed heads roll around on the ground, spreading the seeds over the soil. Seeds can be dispersed up to fifty fores from the plant that produced them, and will quickly grow the following spring. A portion of the seeds will remain dormant in the soil for several years, and suddenly sprout after a particularly cold winter. The root system allows the plant to live many years, but does not spread rapidly, so its primary method of reproduction is by seed.
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Myth/Lore. Local legend tells of a time that Bardess Dalireen herself walked the Alianian Hills herself. Dalireen is a lesser God of the halfling race, and a Goddess honoured and revered by "hobbit folk”. Dalireen is said to have spent her time in the Alianian Hills partaking of her favourite pasttimes - dancing, singing and telling stories from her past. Though she loved the stands of white oak and the mild summers, she found the hard ground difficult to dance upon, so she left behind strands of her light brown hair that took root in the hills and eventually covered the region. The Dogodan hobbits give tribute to Dalireen during their spring and harvest festivals by fashioning various garlands from the stems of Acorn Grass that are hung on walls or doors.

Another tale mentions that Dalireen actually visited the first hobbits in the area and presented them with a few strands of her hair. She instructed them to place the hair in the ground and that each strand would eventually grow and produce a carpet of plants to help them with their tasks of feeding animals and harvesting crops.
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 Date of last edit 9th Awakening Earth 1667 a.S.

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