THE EUR'OAK ("EUROAK", "UR'OAK", "UR TREE")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Eur'Oak is a majestic hardwood which can reach 30 or more peds. It provides a strong and water-resistant, golden-hued wood which burns very slowly, generally used in high-quality ship-building and for framing houses. Though eur'wood is too hard for general decorative carving, it is sometimes found in artifacts of significance due to its longevity. This stately tree is related to the other great oaks of Caelereth (the white, black, and red) but has its own category due to significant differences in reproduction.

The Eur'oak Tree
View picture in full size Image description. A magnificent Eur'oak, more than a hundred years of age. If it could only talk and tell us some of the many story it has witnessed... Picture drawn by Bard Judith.

Appearance. Averages 15 to 20 peds in height, with a full-grown canopy of around 8 to 15 peds in diameter. The most ancient Eur'Oaks have been estimated at 30 or more peds, and up to nine hundred years. The Compendium is pleased to inform its readers that through their auspices the famous “Grandam of the Forest”, or 'Querquen' as the elves name it, in the Bolder Forest, has finally gained official recognition as the tallest (and probably the oldest) Eur'Oak in the Santharian Kingdom, at thirty-eight peds of height, with nineteen major branches supporting a canopy of about thirty peds across, and a trunk nearly sixteen peds around! Exact measurements and more vital statistics were provided by the Aellenrhim elves and are available to interested researchers.

The Eur'Oak has lobulate leaves like its cousins, flaring softly outwards in irregular curves or 'lobes', usually an uneven number along either edge and tipped with a central elongated lobe, each about the size of the top joint of a man's thumb. The whole leaf is generally about two to three palmspans, quite large as leaves in a temperate climate go. Their colour ranges from a golden-green in spring through a greeny-bronze in summer to a dark bronze in fall. The trees actually do have a metallic sheen to the top of their leaves, giving a grove of these a beautifully-shimmering appearance in even the slightest sunlight.

Even when leafless, the Eur'Oak is not difficult to identify, with a rugged flat-bronze bark in the roughly-rectangular, deeply-grooved style of most oaks, and a characteristic 'mushroom' shape to its trunk and branches. The sturdy trunk is full and wide, with only slight tapering before it breaks up into a number of broad branches that flare out from a central 'knot'; usually at least five to ten major limbs, but often as many as fifteen circling out to form the main struts of the canopy. Older Eur'Oaks display swelling, gnarling, and barrelling of the trunk, while their limbs often sink down towards the ground again with age, sometimes touching or growing back into the soil. Splitting rarely occurs with these trees as it so frequently does with willows, so bowing and twisting of the larger limbs is instead more common.

Eur'wood is finely-grained, with a distinctive 'oaken' pattern: long, narrow striations with short 'dashes' of darker colour between. Freshly-cut, the wood has an off-white colour which polishes up into a deep golden hue and will darken with age to a tarnished bronze. At any age, it keeps the contrasts in its patterns that are characteristic of most oak woods, making it not only a tough and long-lived substance, but a beautiful one.
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Territory. The Eur'Oak can be found over most of the continent of Sarvonia, from forest to mountain, from swamps' edges to plains borders. Northern varieties tend to be smaller, as is typical for most trees in the colder climates, but quite hardy, with plenty of foliage well into the fall. Farther south they do not flourish, as the heat seems to overcome them easily. Though moistness or dryness they can take in their stride, aceedic soil seems rather preferred. They are most profuse through the Temperates and Northern Wilds.
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Usages. The Eur'Oak's sturdy wood is generally used for framing out ships and buildings which are desired to last longer than the average; though it is hard on tools, the grain is straight and even and splits well. Doors and window frames, which are frequently exposed to weather, are also popular applications for the water-resistant wood.

Some specialty uses are also possible, though they should be considered exceptions, as eur'wood does not work up easily in any sort of detailed form. Tool or weapon handles, such as the Kyranian sengren axe, can of course be whittled from the appropriately-sized branches, and simple musical instruments like the Rain Shaman. The Brownies also seem to favour it for such diverse applications as mead bottles and currency! See the tome on the Birni for more information.

The leaves are large and attractive; when dried, they can be cut and used as foliage in dried flower arrangements. However, they are brittle and do not lend themselves to basketry, bookmarks, shingling, or other such applications.

The inner surface of the bark can be scraped and dried, like many others, and makes good tinder. It should not be confused with willow-powder, as it will, far from curing your headache, make it worse if not poison you. The dried bark is full of tannin, and can be used in preserving and colouring leather, when mixed with other extracts, dyes, and substances, as the Tanner's Guild will be happy to tell you in greater detail.
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Reproduction. It is in the area of reproduction where the Ur (as the orcs name it) differs most widely from the other oaks of Caelereth. The common white, red, and black oak all grow their little capped nuts, known as acorns, which as 'mast' become a popular food source for the small animals of the area, and which surviving, sprout into saplings that grow into oak trees like their parents.

The Eur'Oak bears no acorns – no nuts at all, in fact. Instead, it flowers like a fruit tree, in the last days of winter, and sheds those flowers, bearing already-sprouted seedlings beneath them, with the wind of spring. The flowers are white, with nine petals curving and overlapping from a central small globe, which if cut into would reveal a miniscule seedling, already with tiny roots curled around its base and two tiny leaflets at the top. The shape of the petals allows the loose bloom to spin as it catches the breeze, twisting up and away to be borne elsewhere on the wind.

Let us turn from mere scholarly description and give you a passage of mysteriously descriptive prose by one of our young authors instead, a gnomish alchemist and bard who cheerfully mixes her two passions in this allusive poem, which she calls “Mixing Green”.

Mixing Green

White whorls of bloom, nine-winged, lift from the branches bare
And fly. At each one's base, a swelling, rosy, pregnant with
The hope of fall, a seedling incarnate.
Bird or flower, Air or Earth?
As Grothar breathes, spring sings, sighs;
The eur'bloom flies.

Black ground softened, thawing, reaches out,
Encradles in its earthy grasp
Each fertile flower. At each one's base, a seedling, golden, ready with
The song of spring, a tree incarnate.
Flame or flower, Fire or Earth?

The white goes down into the dark,
And dies to live. The black is changed,
Unchanging, as mothers everywhere;
Materna, Eura, Ur-song!
The eur'seed strong!

Green comes from blending white and black, nine parts to two,
Enmixed with phosphor, cask-rime, saltpetre, Cael-bones all,
Leaps up in joy. At each one's tip, a swelling, green, divided with
The leaves to come, a fruit incarnate.
Moist with sap, now Water-full.
As Grothar sings, spring breathes, sows;
The Eur'Oak grows!
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Myth/Lore. The Eur'Oak can be attacked by certain tree-loving fungi and molds, which sometimes hollow out its core to create a vast cavity, even while the tree is alive. Such trees can provide convenient shelter to rangers and hunters, with the dry interior padded with moss, fir branches, or fallen leaves, and are commonly known as 'Wounded Healers', after a Northern legend. It is said that a young Daughter of Choan sought shelter in one such tree after a brutal fortnight of thankless healing, during the Third Sarvonian War. She fell into an exhausted slumber and awoke days later with her own (minor) wounds completely healed, her water flask refilled, and a collection of nuts, berries, and dried sulcho mushrooms piled in a circle of Eur'Oak leaves near her head. Though no other traveller has ever reported such generosity from the hollow trees, it is certain that they do provide a dry, safe place to spend a night out-of-doors – always provided that one evicts any forest denizens first!

In some places, such as the Themed'lon, the elven Wood Keeper clans are said to carefully culture certain large Eur'Oaks with the Shaping Mold - as they call it - so that useful cavities can be created and the health of the tree protected simultaneously. Simple shelters and even multi-roomed dwellings have been formed in this way; combined with tree-singing and elven arboriculture, quite beautiful and elaborate living homes can be produced.

Here, a short incantation often carved on Eur'Oaks by superstitious hobbit-lads (or lasses) seeking a true heart's dear... “May my love cling fast to me / as the bark unto this tree.” It's claimed that those without the persistence to finish all forty-three letters of the charm will never find or keep a lasting love! There is some dissent among the younger generation as to whether, should the bark grow over the carving, this signifies that the charm is 'kept safe' and will never dissolve, or whether that instead 'breaks' the power of the charm and one's love will prove faithless...

The great doors of the New-Santhalan Library are constructed from Eur'Oak, bound and hinged in bronze inlaid with herne. Earth Mages, sages, and at least one bard of our acquaintance favour staves of Eur'Oak for certain applications. It is a favourite wood of the dwarvenkind – to whom all wood is precious – being one of the longer-lasting kinds, and as close to the sturdiness of stone as any wood might come. In fact, the Avennorian 'barek' in which Brok Strongarm sailed for Denilou was said to have been not only planked and hulled in eur'wood, but even keeled with it (a departure from the traditional whalebone keel). Praise then, to Eur'Oak, a tree which will grace Santharia for generations, both living and dead, and make our lives richer thereby.
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 Date of last edit 15th Frozen Rivers 1670 a.S.

Information provided by Bard Judith View Profile