THE "BLANKET OF SHAR" VINE

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The "Blanket of Shar" is an invasive, fast-growing, flowering vine that is native to the jungles of Shar. This vine can blanket large areas of trees and ground covering them in a thick layer of tough vines and voluminous numbers of variegated green leaves. In tropical climates, the vine flowers almost continuously, but in colder climes, it flowers only in the spring and summer. The flowers are very tiny, but grow in great ball-shaped bunches which give the impression of a larger light pink flower. In the tropics the vines grow so thickly massed together that they merge, forming a larger vine or even a wide 'buttress'.

The ability of this vine to grow together to make bigger vines is limited to the tropics, because of the high humidity, and fast growth. It happens very seldom in any other climates. This unique characteristic makes this vine a basic building material of the Viaquis tribe. Gardeners in other regions often use it to cover a trellis, or garden shelter, to create a private, shady, getaway. It is also used to cover external walls of some buildings for decoration.


Appearance. This common vine from the jungles of Shar will take over entire sections of rainforest if conditions are right. It is very fast-growing, sometimes reaching out eight to ten or more nailbreadths in a single day. A single vine will reach a width of one or two nailbreadths in thickness, but this varies depending on its proximity to other vines. If two vines are touching, they will grow together, producing a thicker, stronger, vine. The Viaquis tribe have taken advantage of this, and force specific results by braiding, weaving, and tying many vines together to form walls, and roofs for their elevated dwellings.

The vine will produce a high volume of leaves, in a variety of vivid green colours, which help to visually break up any straight lines produced by the edge of walls. This makes the dwellings hard to see within the trees, and is especially helpful for concealing sentry outposts along the outskirts of settlements. These leaves are 3-4 nailbreadths long, and about 2 nailbreadths wide, making a flat, teardrop shape. A central ridge runs down the length of the glossy surface, from its tip to the sturdy stem, while the interior veins are concealed in the thickness of the leaf itself.

By stretching the vines between several trees, the sheer numbers of overlapping leaves can also provide a simple shelter from the frequent rains of these tropical jungles. This also often results in the absence of underbrush in these areas because the leaves filter out a considerable amount of the life-giving sunlight. It is not unusual to find small clearings within the villages covered by such a canopy of leaves, creating a shaded open area for village gatherings.

The flowers of the Blanket are composed of many florets, or smaller flowers, that cluster together. Each individual floret is only a quarter of a
nailbreadth in size, but grows in a graceful ball-shaped cluster to form a larger "bloom" that can be between one half to almost a full span in size.

As with most climbing vines, the Blanket of Shar puts out many little rootlets to attach to the trunks and limbs of the trees it climbs. Unlike most, it can also put out fine rootlet fibers that stretch all the way down to the ground, anchoring the vine for further expansion and added strength to that entire section of vines. This increases its chances of survival during high winds, especially during the cyclonic storms that rage through the tropics during certain times of the year. Some have even gone as far to say that some of these massive vine constructs managed to shield small communities from the devestation caused by the Breaking cataclysm.
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Territory. The Blanket is native to the jungles of Shar, and grows prolifically in this hot, humid, region, but varieties of the vine flourish throughout Nybelmar and Sarvonia. However, outside of its native jungles, the vine must be planted and cultivated, and isn't an invasive plant. In many areas, the vine is used as decoration and for shade during the summer. It will grip stone walls as readily as it does a tree trunk, and can cover entire walls with a thick coating of leaves. It is as decorative as ivy, but without ivy's destructive effect: in fact, it provides some extra strength to the wall by holding the stones together.

The vine will grow in any climate that does not have a hard freeze in the winter, and has a fair supply of rain throughout the year. It doesn't grow readily in the grasslands, or in the high mountains, and can't get enough water to survive in more arid areas.
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Usages. The Viaquis claim that the smell of the blossoms have a soothing effect. The blossoms can be brewed into a tasty hot tea, which will relieve headache pain, or can be chewed on for a quick sweet flavour to freshen the breath.

It is also spread out to cover the wedding bed of newlyweds, and is a popular motif in beadwork, pottery decoration, and woodcarvings of the area.

The Viaquis use the vine in a unique manner to build some of their homes. When a young Viaquis couple are pledged to marry, the community comes together in a celebration, bringing a number of stout vine cuttings and transplants with them. The couple chooses an area in which they would like to live, and the villagers find a large tree around which to anchor the building. The vines will be planted along the foundation lines, then braided, woven, stretched, and tied, to form the start of walls and roof of a small house just the right size for a new couple. During the yearlong pledging time, the vines are trimmed, retied, and shaped. As the vines grow, they will eventually combine into one piece of solid material, covered with leaves. The bark grows over the small gaps, and the result is a thin, strong 'plank' wall that will keep out the wind and rain. Once the pledging time is over, and the couple marry, the house is ready for them to move into.
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Reproduction. The Blanket of Shar reproduces - as do many other vines in the jungle -, by sending out long roots underground which break through and grow new vines that cover the ground, underbrush, and trees in the area. If a piece of vine is broken off and wrapped around a tree trunk or branch, it will send out rootlets into the tree for nourishment, within three to four days, until it establishes a new root or roots in the soil. A piece of vine may be kept in a container of water for transport. However, after three or four days it will not grow rootlets in air, but must then be planted in soil before it will grow.

In the tropical jungles this vine will flower almost continuously, but outside its native surroundings, it only flowers in the late spring and through the summer months.
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Myth/Lore. A little love song dealing wtih the Banket of Shar vine, as translated from the Viaquis, reads as follows:

My Sharian Love
(Author Unknown)


I look in your eyes
they are bright as the birds
that sing in the jungles of Shar

I taste your lips
they are sweet as the nectar
that drips from the flowers of Shar

I hear your voice
soft as the feathers
that drift in the clouds over Shar

I would I could build for you
a home of the housevines
a roof of the Blanket
the Blanket of Shar

If only your eyes
and your lips
and your voice
would speak all together
would answer me aye
we would dance in
the jungles of Shar
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 Date of last edit 30th Frozen Rivers 1667 a.S.

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