THE ALINFA LILY

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Alinfa is a striking lily in shades of pink and purple which grows in shallow water throughout shaded, warm areas of Southern Sarvonia.

Appearance. These water lilies grow on knee-high (to an elf) slim hollow stems. Two or three long lance-shaped leaves spring from the base of the stem, just below water level. The stalks and foliage range from a pale grayish-green to a dark olive shade. In spring the stems emerge from the water with the bulbous top protected by a grey sheath or husk. As the bud forms, the husk slowly splits and peels back to reveal the vivid young flower.

The Alinfa Lilies

View picture in full size Image description. The Alinfa Lilies grow in shaded, warm areas of Southern Sarvonia.  Picture drawn by Eratinalinfalah.

The buds begin as a rich blue color with a lot of purple in it, almost a waterberry hue. The grey tatters of protective sheath hang below each bud, like an old shawl on a young maiden. As the bloom opens outwards and the petals unfurl, they lighten to purple and maroon, then to an intense rose, and finally become a gentle pink. The petals, strangely, are not always of a consistent number, but are usually odd-numbered – five, seven, or nine petals are the most common. Six and eight-petalled Alinfa are considered an omen of misfortune (as may be seen in the spectacular portrait of the Aellenrhim Ránn Aiá'merán) -- to the very left of the picture, echoing its sorrowful theme, are a cluster of Alinfa with even-numbered petals. Twelve-petalled Alinfa are even rarer, and when found are believed to be an indication of the Twelve Gods’ favor. In fact, a group of 12-petal Alinfa Lily bulbs were offered to Baveras’s Temple in Santhala about forty years ago, and when transplanted carefully into the aquatic gardens there flourished and spread – they are still jealously tended by the resident Baveras Aids, and believed to be the only such successfully cultivated bulbset in Sarvonia! Return to the top

Territory. The plants prefer shallow, relatively undisturbed or placid water in warmer climates and cannot survive direct sun. As such they are found mostly in the overgrown oxbows and marshes of older rivers, or in quiet pools under forest shade. They seem to thrive in elven forests such as the Calmarios, the Paelelon, the Quallion, the Zeiphyr and the Sharadon, and are particularly lovely in the groves of the Bolder. They can also be found around the Auturian Woods along the tributaries of the Mashdai River, as well as in the Thaehelvil estuary. Alinfa Lilies seem to be limited to Southern
Sarvonia, or at the least they have not been reported elsewhere to this point. Return to the top

Usages. The plant has no usages known to humans, nor do our dwarven and Brownie researchers have anything to add to its two qualities of beauty and gracefulness.

It is possible that elves have some as-yet-unknown medicinal or herbal use for the plant, but they seem reluctant to speak about the Alinfa for some reason. We know from elven art and poetry, however, that it has been used as garlands for the Ylfferhim Ránns as part of their ascension ceremonies.

It seems, like many water plants, to help filter and purify the water which flows past it, although without the striking effect of the yealm reed. In nature, the corms or bulbs of the plant serve as winter food for waterrats, ducks, turtles, and other aquatic species during the winter. The dried leaves remain on the stalk over the winter and are often collected as nest or den lining material by fliers and burrowers.  
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Reproduction. The plant depends on its globular bulbs, buried deep in the mud, to sustain and reproduce itself. Each bulb is composed of ten to twenty segments, or ‘cloves’, faintly citrus-scented, which when divided will grow into its own plant. Beasts hunting for food in the winter will often break apart the bulbs, and while some serve as food, several usually escape and bury themselves in the mud to reproduce again as separate plants next spring.
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Myth/Lore. The Alinfa Lily has been associated with elves for centuries, doubtless due to its slender grace and its habitat. It is said to be a favorite of Ylfferhim Ránns, and it occurs in elven poetry and literature, as well as in decorative motifs such as carving, and embroidery.

Here, a rough translation from the Styrásh of a song which mentions the Alinfa:

In plashing pools of dappled rain
The frog lifts up his woeful strain,
Below the blooms of Alinfa.

Sing, frogling, sing your song of grief!
On withered stem and blighted leaf
The serpent’s shadow came and fell.

Soft river, bear my words away,
I would I could not hear, nor say
The Lily’s tale for elven ears.
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