THE ALRIK'RAN BUSH ("WOMENSROOT", "MOTHER'S BLUE")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION

Alrik'ran is a small woody bush with tiny coin shaped succulent green leaves and medicinal roots found growing in areas of scorched land in the Narfost Plain. Dependent on the plains-fires brought on by the lorahough's propensity to combust, this plant is a somewhat uncommon sight, but greatly in demand amongst the Shendar women of that area.

Appearance. Alrik'ran is a perennial bush that grows to a height of a ped and usually has an upright growing habit, looking more like a miniature tree than a low-growing bush. With a single 'trunk' that branches off in twin pairs, the mature Alrik'ran looks dry, with a peeling, papery bark and clusters of little sognastheen-green circular fat leaves. The leaves cluster into groups of around eight, arranged haphazardly along each short branch. Each leaf is coated in a thickish layer of wax, which can be harvested; this seems to help keep the plant moist within. When in flower, the buds form at the base of the leaves where they are attached to the papery bark, and create little bouquets of very pale blue-green flowers, each one being no bigger than the nail on a human's smallest finger. The root of the plant is long and tough, branching many times and mat often be as long as a ped and a half. This tough, fibrous root is the source of the plant's popularity, it is difficult to extract and when cut 'bleeds' a blue milky sap. Return to the top

Territory. Alrik'ran can be found sporadically growing slowly in the
Narfost Plain. Usually they are to be found near areas of lorahough growth, where the fires of the plains start and are at their coolest. Further out from the lorahoughs, the fire has grown in intensity and can even damage the seeds if it gets too hot. Return to the top

Usages. The Alrik'ran has found some small use as a wax producing plant. Candles are made with the wax, which must be scraped from, or boiled off handfuls of the small leaves. These candles burn with a pale pinkish flame with some white smoke, and give off a scent that is both warm and relaxing, like a mug of heated spiced wine by the fire. The main use of the Alrik'ran, however, and the source of its other names, is the root of the plant. Dug up, with some effort, washed, dried and peeled, this fibrous tough root can be split into thin sticks of manageable length and chewed by those women who suffer from cramps, headaches or other complaints during their monthly courses, or cycles. It tastes of bitter-sourness, though not strong and some women come to like the mouth-shrinking sharp flavour. This root, which then releases slow amounts of its active essences, seems to aid in the cramps, pains and emotional turmoil that plague some women at these times. A side effect of this, however, is that the blue sap of the root stains the women's teeth a pale blue. This lasts for a few days after, but no stigma is attached to a blue toothed woman in the Shendar. This may however be why the root's medical properties have been slow to catch on elsewhere, as ladies of note who could afford to import such a medicine, would be unwilling to walk around with blue teeth.
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Reproduction. The Alrik'ran is a peculiar plant, in that it seems to rely so closely on the
lorahough and its fire-bringing propensity. Once the Alrik'ran has finished flowering, and the little bouquets of pale flowers have fallen from the bush, the bases of the flower-heads, next to the leaf bottoms, swell up over the course of a week, until it becomes a swollen dark-green sphere of two nailsbreadths in diameter. This dries in the sun until it is quite blackened, withered and crispy, and then drops to the ground along with two or three of the green waxy leaves that have curled around. There, it waits until the next plainsfire.

When the fire hits the plains, and this might not be for months, or even several years, the Alrik'ran seedpod is consumed in the fire - the waxy leaves going up in a ball of pinkish flame. This fire is the only thing that the seeds inside will respond to, for they will not germinate otherwise. In the devastation left by the plainsfires, the seeds of the Alrik'ran, left in a small pile of nutritious ash from the seed pod and the burning vegetation, very swiftly sprout, take root and start their growth. It sends forth a green sprout with two rounded leaves, but these fall from the plant as the second set of leaves and the thickening of the stem replace them. By the second week, the bush has two branches and a stalk and is already starting to become papery. It is only when the rest of the plains have recovered that the Alrik'ran's growth spurt is halted and it resumes its slow patient growing pattern until it drops its seed pods again and the next fire hits. From immolated seedpod to mature flowering bush, it is often less than a year.

It should be noted, that while the parent plant is burned to the ground by these fires, if the roots are left where they are, they may sprout again, once again demonstrating that the
Narfost Plain lets nothing go to waste. Return to the top

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