THE FALSE HEART ("BLEEDING HEART")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The False Heart, Bleeding Heart or Burning Heart (Styrásh: cár'réóll eferí, cár'réóll eferí, meaning Burning Heart, or cár'réóll eaí, cár'réóll eaí, meaning Protecting Heart) is a beautiful climber. It has dark green heart shaped leaves with a delicate red rim which are topped by ornamental yellow flowers. But it is one of the biggest nuisance and a fairly dangerous plant to an uninformed traveller.

The yellow flowers, blooming all year long except in frost periods, evolve to seeds which are covered with little poisonous hooked spikes. A simple vibration near the plant, registered by roots growing out this far, trigger the flight of the seeds. It is not fully understood how this works, research is not very pleasant. The red fuzzy rim of the leaves which stay at the plant over the winter, is poisonous itself, so that even in wintertime, where flying seeds are rare, the plant is protected to a certain amount. Tiny spikes on the stem make it impossible to touch it with bare hands. The name "False Heart" derives from the form of its leaves - and its combination of beauty and peril, "Bleeding Heart" or "Burning Heart" from the colour of the leaves after the first frost.


Appearance. From far away, the False Heart looks like an immense basically green veil which covers openings in steep mountain slopes, or like a green "waterfall" tossing down over a rim far up in the meadow below. In wild regions or areas with difficult access where it grows undisturbed it can cover whole mountain sides up to three hundred peds or more.

Upon closer inspection, dark green heart shaped leaves emerge which have a glossy dark red fuzzy rim. The leaves are about half a handspan long with the red rim just about a nailsbreth wide. An even closer look at the red rims show very tiny little red "hairs" forming the rim. The leaf margins are sharply serrated with approximately 20 teeth along each side. Each leaf has a stout petiole, which grows out of the underlying stems. The leaves grow so dense, that nothing of the underlying stems can be seen. Their tips are always pointing downwards, regardless if the climber grows upwards or is hanging down. The plant has tendrils that flare out, finding every little crevice, rough area or abrasions to attach to securing a solid hold for the plant. - The leaves grow so dense, that nothing of the underlying stems can be seen. Their tips are always showing downwards, regardless if the climber grows upwards or in a hanging way.

Delicate yellow flowers break in regular intervals through the veil of leaves, three to five blooms on one stalk, giving it a dotted appearance when looking at it at a relatively close distance. The flowers are irregular, with five petals, two fused, three sepals and five stamens with connate filaments.

The fruit is a five chambered capsule. When touched, or sometimes even through a strong wind which shakes the leaves, the mature capsule explodes and ejects up to 700 seeds. They are carried away by the wind due to their nearly weightless built and their tiny hairs catching the wind.

The roots of the False Heart extend normally up to seven fores deep where the climber grows from bottom to top, with adventitious roots found along the lower stem nodes, sometimes buttressing. Eventually it develops a woody trunk. When growing on top of a slope and falling down, the roots are even up to thirty fores long. In this case the False Heart grows horizontal as well and the seeds are shot up to a ped high. This is obviously the way the climber protects its base.

The False Heart flowers and builds out seeds the whole year long where no frosts occur. In cold areas the leaves turn to a bright bloody red after the first frost and stay on the climber till spring, though the colour fades with the time. They dry soon and vanish when the new leaves appear in spring. At some occasions, when it stays dry after the first frost, you can hear the climber "cry" (as people like to say) as soon as a breeze of air touches it, a rustling and clicking goes through the plant.

However before the first new leaves grow, the flowers are already in full bloom, much denser and bigger than later when the foliage is in full growth. So for a short time, the False Heart is only yellow or light orange. There follows a period with an abundance of ripe seeds which are transported by the wind for many furlongs. This allows a lot of seedlings to grow to a strong plant during summer.

All parts are poisonous except the seeds.
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Territory. The False Heart is found everywhere in known Caelereth where the climate meets its conditions. It grows in partly sunny, airy conditions with enough water, but thrives where it gets full sunlight. So it grows mostly on the sunny side of steep slopes or mountain sides, sometimes on big trees who stand at the rim of a forest, or in warmer regions where the conditions are not too wet and enough sunlight is available on a flat territory as well. Then the tendrils are interwoven in a very dense way, much more than when climbing. Such a thicket can be up to one ped high and is totally impenetrable.

The False Heart is not found in areas cultivated by humans, even if the growing conditions are good, but will be extinct wherever a young seedling appears.

Several elven tribes however, like the Ylfferhim of the Quallian Forest, the Quaelhoirhim of the Zeiphyrian Forest or the Tethinrhim of the Auturian Woods use it to guard their homes, planting it at the base of trees growing at the rim of the woods or where the growing conditions allow it even in the forests to protect special areas or houses like the Ría, the one of the Tethinrhim sovereign. The Tethinrhim are said to have a special liking to this plant because of its red colour in autumn and winter which they compare with the colour of their own hair.

Famous examples for places in Sarvonia where the False Heart grows in abundance are as far apart as the east mountain slope of the Mithral Mountains and a place near Bardavos. In the Mithral Mountains the False Heart vine covers a whole rocky wall near Nepris, though not reaching its full coloured beauty because it faces to the north. However it turns in its whole length to a bloody red in autumn, which is a spectacular sight. Near Bardavos the False Heart covers part of the Narfost cliffs near Occen's lookout. Here it grows all year long at the base, but at the top it turns to blood red as well when the winter frosts have arrived. It indicates the strength of the winter - the farer down the red reaches, the lower the temperatures have been.
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Usages. All parts are used by herb women to heal heart problems, however if the dose is too strong, it can cause death as well.
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Reproduction. The flowers are fertilised through the wind as the seeds are distributed by it over quite a distance. That is sometimes quite a nuisance for human farmers, because they can find seedlings even if the next False Heart is far away.
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Myth/Lore. Human proverbs and sayings about the False Heart are as popular as the plant itself is disliked by humans:

Sometimes a myth is told in Santharia - it is not known any longer from which tribe it originated - about a beautiful woman with a red touch in her golden hair which seemed to burn in the light of the Injérà. Her name was Belmira. One day she caught the attention of Etherus and was attracted by him as well. So they became lovers and their understanding of each other was perfect, because the woman was devoted to desire, lust and excess as Etherus is. But due to this attitude it was not long that the woman saw a good looking human man whose body she desired. She pretended to love him and he could not resist her. When Etherus got notice of this he was furious - though he had not done better than Belmira meanwhile. He killed the man and looked for Belmira who tried to hide in a cave. But Etherus found her, grabbed her and smashed her body in his fury against a mountain wall. [Read the legend of the myth in detail here.]

However, Foiros intervened - the woman had done nothing else than to betray the betrayer Etherus. So Foiros didn‘t prevent the extinction of her human body, but he allowed her to live on forever in the False Heart. The many different names the plant has - False Heart, Bleeding Heart, Burning Heart or even Belmiras Hair - whenthe leaves have turned red, may all derive from this myth, in one or another way.
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Information provided by Talia Sturmwind View Profile