THE BLADELEAF FERN

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Bladeleaf Fern is an incredibly useful plant, used by those familiar with it for both cosmetic and medical applications. Those familiar with it are primarily the Shendar, the Eyelians, the Brownies of the Vale, and the denizens of the dry regions of South-Central Santharia as a whole. Outside of Santharia, Bladeleaf can also be found in Aerullin and Western Nybelmar.

Appearance. The name Bladeleaf is no misnomer. It grows in patches, like a shrub or bush, but rather than having thistles or needles, it grows massive leaves, some a half ped in length. It grows some twenty to thirty leaves on a plant, all thick as broadsword blade, with barbs on the edges. The barbs are brown, and are easily spotted against the deep green of the leaves. They are not as sharp as their namesake, however, and a better name for this fern might be the "Sawleaf", as the barbs do not form a continuous edge. Still, one should be careful if a trinket lands in a Bladeleaf patch - more than one young'un has a cut on his arm from attempting to rescue a ball from the jagged confines of the Bladeleaf.

While the sword-like leaves of the Bladeleaf are fascinating enough, the inside of plant is perhaps the more notable. Inside lies a thick, greenish gel. The gel is a putrid enough substance, of a rough texture, and a sickening stench. More then once has one compared the smell of Bladeleaf gel to the smell of mucus, though infinitely stronger. Disgusting as the goop is, it provides a multitude of uses to the herbalist or wise-woman schooled in its medicinal and cosmetic abilities.

The Bladeleaf gel is light green, further adding to the mucus comparisons. However, unlike phlegm, Bladeleaf gel is dotted with small, almost invisible, black seeds. It is these seeds that stick to the coats of animals who seek to use the Bladeleaf as a food source, and cause Bladeleaf gel to have a rough texture. - Herbalists and experts regard the Bladeleaf as a hardy plant, as it can be found will growing in even the rockiest, dryiest, soil or sand.

One will note that there are two varieties of Bladeleaf - the Bladeleaf itself, and its smaller cousin, the Daggerleaf. Daggerleaf is essentially physically identical to Bladeleaf, except for the fact that it is composed of roughly five to six leaves per plant, and grows only a palmspan high!
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Territory. The Bladeleaf Fern is found in many areas of the world, but most prevalently in Western Nybelmar and Southern Sarvonia, though the Ru’norians have a similar fern. There have also been confirmed Bladeleaf populations in Aerullin.

In Sarvonia, the plant is found prevalently in the south, where it is used as a wound-healer by the Shendar in the Ráhaz-Dáth Desert, and as a cosmetic cream by the citizens of Barvados, in Brendolan. In central Santharia, it can be found in the Kor Donion area, as well as the outskirts of the Vale of Brownies. South-central Elverground and the area between Chrondra and Marcogg also have significant populations. It is found as far north as the Heath of Jernais, south to the Xythrian Mountain range. - In Nybelmar, the plant is a bit more prevalent, found throughout the western region, especially in Orcal.

Daggerleaf grows in similar areas, but it cannot exist on its own. It is a parasite, and grows on other plants. Thus, in the desert, you will find the Daggerleaf growing in close proximity to cacti and Bladeleaf, with the Daggerleaf roots feeding off the other plants’ roots. Despite its parasitic properties, Daggerleaf is a bit more flexible then Bladeleaf, and will be found in a slightly wider range. It is especially common in the Vale of Brownies, where it grows on the many deciduous trees within the Vale. The Vale itself also has a climate dry enough to support the Daggerleaf, and the water the Vale collects provides the Daggerleaf with all the water it needs.

Bladeleaf is most commonly found in dry, arid conditions, such as deserts, balmy plains, and certain mountain bases. Bladeleaf is noted as a hardy plant, and will be found growing in even the rockiest, driest, soil or sand. Almost paradoxically, however, it is never found far from water. This is most likely due to the fact that the seeds of Bladeleaf are commonly carried by birds and animals who will stop at an oasis or river, where the seeds will land, in order to drink. This in part, has caused it to be of great interest to desert travelers.  
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Usages. The gel of the Bladeleaf Fern is used for an incredible amount of purposes. It, combined with several other hard-to-procure ingredients, was originally used as a cosmetic for the elite, as the gel, when scrubbed into the face, helps clear blemishes and keeps the skin moist. It is also used medicinally, and to great effect. Among the Brownies, it can be used to relieve the pain of the Baked Brownie Ailment (Sunblood), and is similarly used by the larger folk to relieve burning, rashes, and other pains of the skin caused by the sun. Note that it is a good deal more difficult for the Brownies to access the gel, due to the size of the leaf. One possessed of average stature can simply snap the leaves apart, while a Brownie must hack at the base for many hours before the tough exterior is pierced. The benefit to Brownies is that a single leaf can last a lifetime, while human commonly need an entire leaf for one treatment.

Generally, however, a Brownie will not spend hours cracking open a Bladeleaf. Instead, the Daggerleaf suits them just fine, as the effect is roughly equal, albeit the Daggerleaf provides a much smaller dose (which is perfect for a Brownie). If a Brownie is in need of a larger amount (after all, the gel is an easily traded commodity), they can “sap” a Bladeleaf. Generally, a Brownie will fly out to the Vale’s outskirts, searching for a plot of Bladeleaves. When a suitable “grove” is found, the Brownies will set up shop. The Brownies may set up a small farming post, where several Brownies will hack at the Bladeleaf until it is opened, and the gel starts flowing. Upon hitting gel, the Brownie will call for his companions, who will help him set up a bucket to catch the gel in, and begin construction of a pipe. This pipe process is threefold.

First, the cut is widened, and smeared with a special resin. This resin is a conglomerate of several ingredients, including the sap of Evergreen Trees (commonly the Sahnrix pine) and a serum made from feylin venom. The serum is used to help keep the gel flowing, so one hole can be used for a long period of time. After this resin is applied, a long, flat, tube is quickly inserted into the hole. This tube has a floodgate-style door that can be raised or lowered. When raised, the gel flows, when lowered, the Bladeleaf begins to heal, and the flow of gel stops.

An interesting note on feylin venom - feylin are only found within the Vale in the mid-spring time, when there are pools of standing water stagnant enough for the feylin to lay eggs in. At this time, the Brownies will capture a feylin, and, through a difficult series of maneuvers, force the beastie to pierce a thin net stretched over a bottle. A Brownie then attaches a small clamp to the nose, and keeps the feylin attached to the bottle. The feylin then spends its final hours pumping venom into the bottle, after which it is killed, and eaten as an annual delicacy.

The popularity of Bladeleaf gel is partially due to the fact that it is a natural remedy against nearly any rash or skin pain, and it works almost instantaneously. The gel also functions as a natural bandage, keeping away infection caused by open wounds. - The seeds have also been used by hobbits and common folk, as a natural purgative.
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Reproduction. The goo inside is not only beneficial to people in need of skin treatment, it is also needed for plant reproduction. The gel carries a rough consistency, due in part to the seeds found throughout the gel. They are small; typically no larger than a grain of sand. These seeds, commonly called Bladeleaf grains, are released in the summer months, when the weather is at its hottest and driest. It is at this time that the Bladeleaf leaves begin to break down and decompose. This starts as a general drying of the tips, until the entire leaf is brown, it’s medicinal gel escaped into the ground, or carried to a different environment by those who have rubbed themselves with it. The gel is also carried by birds, who find the gel a rare treat, and by boars and other animals suited to eat the tough skin of the fern. The gel can be digested normally, but seeds are almost always expelled with the feces. If, in the event a Bladeleaf manages to survive in a damp environment, with no dry season (rare enough indeed!), the seeds will be released at the end of the plant's natural lifespan. This lack of constant reproduction contributes to the plant's rarity in wet, tropical areas.

The Bladeleaf, however, grows exceedingly fast, and a "baby" Bladeleaf will be found before the "parent" is completely gone. Note that a baby Daggerleaf can barely been seen but by a Brownie
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Myth/Lore. The Bladeleaf Fern is found in great numbers in many areas of the Sanguian province - the location of the former kingdom of Eyelia. As such, the plant has been used for millennia by the people there, and it is considered one of the four holy plants of the Eyelian people. It represents the power of healing, and thus, the wind element.

An interesting bit of lore - the Bladeleaf is so named because of a Santharian superstition involving Brownies. During the times when the plant became commonly used and sold as a cosmetic, it was said that the Brownies used the Daggerleaf fronds as swords, and the spikes of the Bladeleaf as daggers. How the two names were switched is a question lost to the tunnels of time. In all truth, it can hardly be considered a question worth asking.
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 Date of last edit 12th Fallen Leaf 1668 a.S.

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