THE DRAGONBELLS BUSH ("BURGISVILLAI", "BOUGANVILLEA")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Dragonbells, or as they are called in their cultivated form, Burgisvillai, is a highly decorative climbing bush, that often astounds people with its extravagant amount of brightly coloured flowers. Native to the flanks of the Dragon's Back Mountains in northern Zhun, these popular plants have been spread from garden to garden all over the continent, and beyond.

Appearance. The Dragonbells is a climbing bush, which starts its life as a small bush, but soon starts to send out vine-like, dark green branches that snake their way through other plants, into trees, and even over rocks and walls in an effort to get as high as possible. As these vines age, they grow thick and lose their flexibility, eventually growing more and more side-branches, and merging with the bush as the base of the plant. Meanwhile, the former vine has been sending out vines of its own, continuing the growth of the bush as a whole. To aid in the climbing of the vines, small serrated thorns grow in pairs at the foot of every long-stemmed, heart-shaped leaf. These hooks allow the Dragonbells to attach itself to rough surfaces, and climb most objects with relative ease.

The oldest parts of the Dragonbells gradually acquire a palebrown bark which flakes off easily. The leaves are the same dark green as the vines, and stay on the plant throughout the year. Admittedly, this does explain for its reputation as one of the most beautiful plants of Nybelmar.

This reputation is more than justified though once the Burgisvillai grows old enough to blossom. As the minute buds begin to show, their eventual colour is still veiled by the delicate green outer petals, but soon the fittest true petals start unfolding, turning the Dragonbells into a colourful extravaganza as hundreds of small, slightly bell-shaped flowers unfold at the same time, in colours ranging from a bright injohue yellow to the deep red hue called karikrimson. The cultivated Burgisvillai however has an even wider range of colours including the purest of white, various purples and pinks, and in one rare version of the plant found only in the Dragon's Back region, blue, ranging from a clear summer sky to the azure waters of the tropical oceans.

The flowers each consist of six petals, each shaped like a tear, with the point downwards. The upper half of the petals overlaps with that of its neighbours, making the comparison a given, especially as the stamen are fairly long, and end in clearly visible balls of bright orange pollen.
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Territory. The Dragonbell is native to the temperate regions of the Dragon's Back Mountains in northern Zhun, there, it flourishes among the rocky fields and at the feet of large trees, often forming large stands in a suitable location. Its cultivated version however, can be grown in many climates, ranging from the blistering southern cities of Nybelmar to the humid climate of the Anpagan Isles, and the Royal Gardens in New-Santhala. The city of Varcopas is well known for its inhabitants' fondness for the Burgisvillai, where it is often combined with another flowering vine, the le'matice, creating even more colourful effects as the flowers complement each other. It does not seem to flourish as well in regions with too much rain however, preferring a more arid ground to take root in. In many gardens this problem has been avoided by planting the Burgisvillai in a pot, and adding a cover to prevent most of the rain to reach the earth inside.
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Usages. Burgisvilleas are used for one purpose only; to decorate. Be it with the twigs, taken while in full bloom and often worn as a headdress when several are twined into a simple circlet, or with the entire bush, as it cascades over a wall or embraces an entire house as time passes. Its many colours and long flowering season have made this a very common and popular plant in western Nybelmar, and a much sought-after addition to gardens and parks in the rest of the world.
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Reproduction. The Dragonbells flower for almost three full months, starting mid-summer, and often shedding their last flowers as fall starts to draw to a close. During winter, a spherical seed pod about two to three nailsbreadth in diameter develops that will open to release a few dozen seeds, shaped like small norsidian drops, around the month of the Melting Ice. These seeds are eaten by many local birds as a late, and much appreciated addition to their winter diet, and in turn they spread some of the seeds around the area by means of their droppings. Many a local gardener has been surprised with a wild seedling of this plant taking root somewhere in his garden. It says a lot about this plant's popularity that many of these unrequested guests are allowed to stay, making buildings without a Dragonbells or Burgisvillai less common by far than those with.
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Myth/Lore. There is a local legend about how the Dragonbells came to bear this name, telling us about a woman who was looking for a cure to save her village from the plague.

The Search for the Cure. There once was a young woman, who, in order to cure the plague that had befallen the village, went up into the mountains to look for herbs. She had been walking for a long time, and as the sun rose high into the sky, she took a nap in the shade of a few trees. Before long, she was rudely awakened by a loud roar, and as she carefully looked to the small meadow she had been gathering her herbs at, she saw a monstrous dragon standing there, sniffing the air intently. Soon, the beast had found her scent, and it came over to the frightened woman, and asked her what she was doing on his mountain.

"I'm merely gathering herbs, oh great lord Dragon!" she answered with a trembling voice. "Down in the valley, my people are very ill, and I have come to try and find a herb that might save them."

"I see," the dragon answered. "But now I have found you here. Maybe I should eat you?" The great beast looked down upon the human before him, and snorted. "Yes, I think I should."

"Oh please lord Dragon, do not eat me!" the woman cried out. "I must bring back these herbs I have found here, or my village may not survive!"

"You would try to stop me then? But little human, you could not do such a thing would I not permit it!" the dragon laughed. "But I will give you a chance... I will ask you a question. If you know the answer, you are free to go. If you fail to solve it however, you will surely die."

The dragon paused, its magnificent head snaking towards the woman until it was so close that she could feel its scalding breath on her face. In a soft whisper, the dragon spoke again. "The question is this, little woman: What... is my name?"

A look of despair came over the woman's face, for she did not know the language of dragons, nor had she ever heard of the kind of names they might prefer. As she prepared herself to tell the beast she could not answer his question, she sent a small prayer to the Gods. And as understanding dawned on her, she knelt before the dragon, and told it its name.

The dragon laughed, and shook its enormous head. "That is my name, little human. And you are free to go." The beast cocked its head, looking at her slyly. "But if you are willing to take it... I have a gift for you... these are the vines you need to cure your people. Take them - if you dare." And with this, he breathed a vast stream of flames into a nearby bush.

Now the dragon set off, and within mere moments, vanished into the clear skies. And the woman sat there and looked at the burning vines, yet the vines did not wither in the flames. And she took them into her hands, and as the flames burned her, they vanished, leaving her hands blistered, and filled with flowering vines.

According to the story, the unknown woman made it back down to her people, and cured them with the vines the dragon had given her. But a small part of it was kept and cared for in her garden, for a gift of Seras himself should not be squandered easily.

Although the cultivated version of the Dragonbells has been available in different colours for centuries, the name "Burgisvillai" origins from Ktsarmashik almost a hundred and fifty years ago, where a nobleman with a passion for gardening by the name of Ameran Burgis grew these flowers at his countryside estate. He had an uncanny knack for breeding new colours into his plants, and it is from here that the Burgisvillai, (named after its birthplace in the local dialect, where a villājin is a common term for a wealthy man's house or estate) has spread throughout the nation. Even now there is a park at the former location of the mansion, which collapsed long after the Burgis family abandoned it, crushed beneath the weight of the hundreds of differently coloured Burgisvilai. This is also the only place where the blue Burgisvillai may be found, as Ameran sadly died before revealing his secret method of propagating this speciality. Despite many attempts, even the most proficient gardeners have not succeeded in any form of multiplication on the rare plant, as even plants potted in earth from the estate, where they flourish in great numbers, seem to die before flowering. Return to the top

 Date of last edit 22nd Burning Heavens 1667 a.S.

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