THE BANDIT'S LEAF ("STEAL WEED", "LEECH LEAF")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

This odd weed is also known as "Steal Weed" and "Leech Leaf" amongst farmers and is one of the worst problems they have to face while growing crops. Banditís Leaf is famous for its strange method of reproduction and its parasitic nature. Some people say that the Steal Weed was imported from Santerran coastal forests where you can find a larger but less dangerous version of its Sarvonian relative. Although the plant has several usages, it can for instance be smoked and the fruits can be eaten, it is very rare considering it can be only found in certain areas on Caelereth and many believe that itís an ill omen when found in farmerís fields.

Appearance. The Sarvonian variant of the Leach Leaf is very small, about one and a half palmspans high, and has two leaves on a thin trunk. The front side of the leaves is very plain, aside from colour, which depends on the Leach Leaf hostís colour. A large main vein runs through the centre of each leaf and some green, smaller veins branch themselves all over the surface. The patterns of these veins are often so interesting that you can even see familiar shapes, letters, words, runes and other things in them which is the main reason for priestesses of Seyella to use these leaves as a mean to read oneís destiny.

On the underside of each leaf you can find three to four little fruits which contain the parasitic seeds. The fruits are bright green in colour and almost transparent, we can see the veins from the leaves pouring into the fruit. This grape-like fruit serves as an container for about seven brown seeds that are almost as long as the fruit. These seeds are pretty heavy, about a mut each, which causes the plantís fragile leaves to bend while holding the fruit.

The Nybelmarian relative to Leach Leaf although larger and of completely same structure as the Sarvonian Leach Leef, was confirmed to be less damaging towards other plants and thus less harmful to the local populace.
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Territory. Due to rareness of Banditís Leaf the Compendium researchers have noted the locations of the plantís populations and are developing a way to stop these affected areas from growing. Larger populations of these plants are located at the Shivering Woods and there are smaller infestations all around the province of Xaramon which testify the Leech Leafís adaptability to mild climates.

There have been noted some infestations on some of the islands of the kingdom of Aca-Santerra. This might indicate the seeds can be spread by the sea, so there is a high chance of the plant having colonies near Cion Sola Bay and other coastal regions and islands in the Santharian province of Vardżnn.
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Usages. Although this plant may obliterate entire harvests, people found a way to turn the worst to however good it can become. So they discovered that the grapes of the Banditís Leaf can be eaten, "as long as you donít eat the seeds" and you can really enjoy in its bitter taste if you donít mind the "prophecies" of old farmers which came from a popular horror story about this on the first look harmless plant.

Another use for this uncommon plant is that you can smoke it, when you boil it and dry it. Itís a tradition of the locals to boil the leaves in the salty water from the sea, they believe that this procedure will send Banditís Leaf back to Nybelmar from where it came. The value of Leach Leafís tobacco lie in its salty aroma, which made it popular in inner parts and other regions of the Santharian kingdom.
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Reproduction. What attracts attention to Banditís Leaf is its way of reproduction. The seed in the grape-like sack on the other side of each leaf grows. When it reaches a certain size the sack bursts, making the seeds fly great distances with the help of small "wings" which spread out of the seed when the fruit bursts, relative to the size of this small plant. The seeds are carried on by the wind. If the seeds land on another plant, they will then proceed with the clasping of any of the unlucky plantís part with a thousand of small dagger-like roots, which break the outer layer of the host and draw its resources. Although there is no proof of the plantís host range, the larger infestations attack only green plants and wheat crops so there is no idea to which useful plants this weed is a threat too.

After attaching itself to any part of the plant, the seed will feed on the plant's resources for a while, until it starts to grow roots. The way of this plantís parasitic nature is unknown, but some noted herbologists claim that Banditís Leaf attaches itself with thousands of little, sharp roots which penetrate the hosts outer layer and adjust themselves in a way they would in the earth, to gather water and other resources for Banditís Leafís growth. In this stage of reproduction the attached plant will slowly faint and die because of the Leech Leafís great need of resources. The growing of roots may be a long or short process, depending on which part of the host plant Steal Weed attached itself. When, finally, this odd plant roots itself in the ground it still doesnít let go of its host and it will suck every last bit of energy from it before letting go. In this stage of the reproduction, the Leech Leaf grows leaves from the seed.
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Myth/Lore. It is highly possible that Banditís Leaf was accidentally imported from southeastern Nybelmar, in a ship built from the wood from a Santerran forest. The odds are that, on one of the planks, which were built into the ship, a Leach Leafís seed was attached and the ship was heading towards Milkengrad bringing all sorts of exotic flora and fauna from Nybelmar, probably following the order of an unknown Compendium researcher.

A popular story is often told by farmers to their children in territories where Banditís Leaf is found. Itís morale is that the little children should not eat everything that they find.

The Bitter Taste. This story is about two young people, a brother and a sister who for some reason found themselves playing on the edge of the Shivering Woods, apparently they were so distracted that they forgot about the legends of the hunted woods. As it was getting dark and the children were getting hungry, they searched the edge for some fruits. They found a nice little plant with a round seducing fruit. The boy, apparently, ate one of those fruits but the girl had recognized the plant.

As it was too late it is said that this little boy started to change his appearance. From a harmless child he soon transformed into a giant green monstrosity with several peds long tentacles. The boyís tentacles slowly rushed towards his sister and a mere moments after one of those tentacles wrapped around the little girl, her hair started to grow longer and longer until it took a disgusting green colour and got much thicker. It seems that they lost their mind, they just wanted to destroy and destroy. The two monsters then went for the village where they infected more and more villagers during the night. The monsters spread and spread until there were no more seeds in any of them and they changed back to their original selves.

The brother and sister remembered the havoc they caused that night so they told their children not to eat anything strange or this catastrophe could happen again, and who knows, maybe this time the monsters will spread and spread and spread... until they cover all of the world.

-- "The Bitter Taste", folk fairy-tale
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 Date of last edit 25th Dead Leaf 1667 a.S.

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