THE FLAMING STAR VINE

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

A tropical plant, the Flaming Star vine grows mainly in warm regions near coastal areas. The vine named for its vividly coloured and star-like flowers is very popular in the poorer regions of Varcopas, but can be found growing wild in most places where the weather suits it. A completely edible plant, the flowers are used to make a desert sauce known for its aphrodisiac properties and its slightly spicy leaves are popular seasoning for fish. The tear-inducing spicy tangled knots of the vine are used to produce Flaming Knots, a popular candy confection among children across the world. The plant also produces a strangely shaped fruit called the "Meldastar". The flower and leaves of the vine are also produce a rich vibrant red dye, which is incredibly expensive due to the large number of flowers it takes to make the dye.

Appearance. The Flaming Star, a creeping vine, will grow up almost everything and anything in its attempts to get the most light possible. At first a vibrant growing green, the vines of the plant will eventually turn brown as the vine grows newer tendrils during each growth cycle. The plant clings to its chosen support by means of tiny hairs that grow along the back of each vine. Although the plant will not take sustenance from its host, the vines will eventually damage any support on which it clings. Most notable is its damage to painted walls, stained trellis, and rocks over time. The damage is largely due to the twining habit of the plant that eventually causes even the sturdiest support to crack under the grip of its ever-tightening tendrils.

The Flaming Star vine is wandering in nature and tends to grow chaotically in every direction, often looping in and out of its own vine, and thus creating a knot of itself. Although chaotic, the Flaming Star vine has a sort of wild beauty about it that some gardeners desire despite the plants particular habit of knotting itself over its support so tightly that it cracks.

The vine's preferred supports are trees, rocks, and upward-slopes of hillsides.

The main vine, which will turn a brown colour after its first season of growth, will send out new green tendrils every year to once again produce sword-shaped clusters of leaves and tiny descending tendrils that sprout into the vines well-known flowers. Individually, the leaves which are a deep verdant green, grow in contrast to the bright yellow green of the vine. Each leaf is triangular with rounded tips and is about five nailsbreadths long and two nailsbreadths wide.

The Flaming Star vine has two flowering stages. A fruit flower stage and a stage that occurs after the fruit sack begins to form.

The Fruit Flowers or Bursting Stars of the Flaming Star vine are arguably the more beautiful flower of the vine although the Flaming Stars of the second stage are beautiful in their own way. During the month of Turning Star when the plant begins to send out new tendrils from older vines, yellow-green bumps will form along with the vine. As the bump grows it starts barely bigger than the vine but growing in size as the vine grows until the protrusion is two nailsbreadths long.

Once the vines have thickened slightly within the month of Molten Ice, this bumps will open to reveal beautiful flowers. Growing quickly these flowers will reach up to two palmspans large within two or three days after opening. The Fruit Flowers, or Bursting Stars as they are sometimes called by the local populace, are similar in shape to the Flaming Star flowers that will appear later on the plant, but not in size or colour. The Bursting Star flowers have four main petals and eight smaller overlapping petals. The main petals are wide, each a few nailsbreadths short of a half-a-palmspan, and overlap each other slightly. The main petals stick out like the four cardinal points of a star, one straight up, one straight down, and two to each side.

The main petals are spear-like in shape and are a vivid white colour striped with two thick slightly curving orange or yellow lines which extend from the center to end slightly short of the end of the petal. The main petals are each a palmspan and two nailsbreadths long.

Overlappin these vividly stripped petals are eight needle-like petals, each a nailsbreadth wide and each two palmspans long. These smaller overlapping petals are always a vivid reddish-purple colour although the intensity of the colour varies from flower to flower. Each main petal is bordered by two of these longer purple petals, one on each side. The centers of the flowers are either yellow if the white petals are orange stripped or orange if the flower are yellow striped and dominated by two huge yellow pistons. It is not uncommon to see an equal amount of each type of flower growing on a single vine, although it is more usual to see a vine dominated by a larger number of one type or the other.

 Within the month of Molten Ice these gigantic fruit flowers thrive on the vine, and due to their size can be pollinated by most any insect. The Flitter-Twitch Butterfly is the most well known pollinator, however the Malise and the Red Diamond Butterfly are also attracted to this brilliantly coloured sweet-smelling flower.

After being successfully pollinated, the Bursting Stars will close up revealing their very thorny green undersides. Overtime, the Flaming Vines fruit will begin to develop within these sharply thorned sacks.

Unlike the second flowers Bursting Stars have a very vivid smell, almost similar to the combination of meldarapple and cinna.

After the Fruit Flowers have closed begin to form the Meldastar fruit of the Flaming Star vine, the second flower stage begins. Practitioners of life-magic, particular Brownies, believe that while this flower produces no seeds or fruits that the sugars created in the pollination processes help to provide the plant with the necessary energy to develop its fruit, send out new vines, and to extend its growth.

These secondary flowers are called Falling Stars for their shape and growth patterns. The Falling Star flowers of the Flaming Star always grow upside down, their pistons and beautiful faces turned towards the ground rather than the sky, upon thin, long tendrils. The blooms of the vines look like tiny flaming stars that have fallen from the sky, thus its name. Each bloom is only two nailsbreadths wide, and consist of only five petals each only one nailsbreadth long.

The petals themselves are generally either a vivid bright blood red, a reddish orange, or dark orange in colour. Each petal is set about two nailsbreadths from its neighbor, flaring out from the blooms narrow center to form one of the cardinal points of the star shaped flower. The narrow centers of the plant, which are barely a grain in size, are hair thin yellow pistons that hang down towards the ground. Each hair thin piston ends with a dark dull yellow grain sized stamen. The downward hanging blooms are attached to their thin tendrils by means of tiny green leaves that mimic the stars shape on its up most side.

The Falling Star flowers are completely odorless and will last until the first of the cool months, generally the month of Falling Leaf although this varies from area to area.

While the Falling Star flowers are striving to be pollinated in order to provide the necessary food supply to the vine, the vine is using the food supply provided by these flowers to produce its fruit. After successful pollination of the Bursting Star fruit flowers, the flowers will close up revealing their green thorny undersides and forming the spear shaped fruit sacks of the Flaming Star Vine. Little is known about the stages of development of the fruit as any study by opening the fruit sack during this development has resulted in the loss of the fruit sack and the fruit. Yet is mostly believed that the fruit begins to develop almost immediately and that will continue growing until the month of Rising Sun.

Between the months of Molten Ice and Rising Sun much can be seen going on the outside of the fruit sack. As the fruit develops within its safe sack, the fruit sack which begins about two palmspans in size will begin to wrinkle and shrink until the sack is slightly larger than the average meldarapple. Late in the month of Rising Sun or Burning Heavens, the sack will begin to harden and thorns around the sack will dull until no longer dangerous to touch. After this has occurred the fruit will detach from the vine, signaling harvesting time. Using a very sharp knife or claws, one can peel away the tough thorny fruit sack to reveal the strange fruit of the Flaming Star vine. The Meldastar fruit is similar in colour and in some ways shape to the meldarapple, thus its name. If one would take the meldarapple and cover it with irregularly occurring twisting sharp spiraling orange protrusions, one would get a rough idea about how a Meldastar fruit looks like. The fruit is longer than a meldarapple due to the descending and spirally protrusions, but other than that it is the same size as the average meldarapple.

In the cooler months, the leaves of the plant will turn a reddish orange, the vines that have increased the plants growth for the year will turn brown, and the plant will shed both its leaves and flowers. The fluttering descent of the flame coloured blooms and leaves reinforce the concept of falling stars and only serves to demonstrate the vines name every year.

As individual plants will knot and intertwine with each other it is almost impossible to tell the height or width of a single plant. However, it is commonly believed that a single plant of the Flaming Star Vine consist of one major vine which will send out tendrils as far away as five peds. The length or height of the a single vine seems to be unlimited as most of its growth seems to be dedicated in the upward direction. Return to the top

Territory. The Flaming Star vine doesn't have so much of a territory as a climate. The Flaming Star vine prefers warm and wet summers, dry and moderately cool winters, and grows almost exclusively near coastal areas. The Flaming Star vine can be found in areas such as Varcopas, the northern eastern part of the Ráhaz-Dáth near the Nirmenith mountain range along the coast of Nybelmar although mostly on the northern and southern sides of the continent, along the coast of the Santharian province of Manthria and into the southern western coast of Sanguia.

The plant prefers sandy soil, which is why the Flaming Star vine is mostly found in coastal areas. Return to the top

Usages. The Flaming Star Vine is entirely edible from the sweet syrup produced from the Falling Star Flowers to the tangle vine knots used to produce Flaming Knots a popular candy.

Beginning with the leaves and the roots of the Flaming Star, these parts of the Vine are often used in salads or as a seasoning for fish dishes. The leaves of the Flaming Star have a sharp almost bitter taste that leave a slightly burning sensation on the tongue afterwards that creates the sensation of spiciness without heat. While leaves may be eaten when green, when the leaves turn red the taste of the leave is milder and is vastly more popular among natives. Leaves can either be added to a salad or placed under the skin of a fish to add flavor to a dish. Roots on the other hand have an extremely bitter almost watery taste that despite the bitter taste is popular especially to contrast a sweet fruit salad or a cheese. Roots are harvested when the plant is dormant as the roots loosen somewhat during this period and always thoroughly washed twice before use.

Many locals in the areas where the bloom grows believe that the Falling Star flowers are an aphrodisiac, increasing the sexual desire in women as well as men. In order to use this rumored power of the plant, the Falling Star blooms are cooked lightly in oil and sugar to produce a sugary sauce. This sauce is then poured over local berries. Couples are encouraged to feed the berries to each other so that the powers of the plant work properly. The properties are said to be increased if the sauce is used over the Flaming Star Vines own fruit, the Meldarstar.

The Meldastar fruit is similar in colour and in some ways shape to the meldarapple, thus its name. If one would take the meldarapple and cover it with irregularly occurring twisting sharp spiraling orange protrusions, one would get a rough idea about how a Meldastar fruit looks like. The Meldastar has a curious taste that is also not easily described that is similar in some ways to the meldarapple.

The Meldastar must be first carefully peeled by removing with a sharp knife the orange spirally protrusions that surround the fruit setting them aside and peeling the rest of the skin revealing a slightly yellowish white firm flesh. Each orange 'thorn' as the protrusions are called are then carefully peeled to reveal their hard slightly orange flesh. The skin of the Meldastar while edible is extremely waxy and most be thoroughly boiled or baked before the skin can be rendered edible. To avoid this hard work most cooks will just remove the skin for compost rather than bothering with a long baking process. Cutting the main fruit will reveal the center of the fruit, a harder stem core that is not edible and must be removed. After slicing the fruit to whatever thickness is desired and washing, the Meldastar fruit is ready to be eaten. Placing it on your tongue, you would be first confronted with an extremely sour and tart that makes one scrunch their face, after you continue to suck on the fruit the sour taste is soon replaced with a sweet still slightly aceedic tart taste similar to but not exactly like a meldarapple.

The 'thorns' of the flesh are more intense then the fruit itself, but the extremely sour tart taste of the thorn is more quickly replaced with a extremely sweet taste then it does for the main flesh. The Meldastar has a variety of uses. It can be baked in a pie, it can be coated in honey and preserved as a winter treat, it can be used in a salad, and can even be used baked with fish. In fact everyway you can use a Meldapple, you can also use a Meldastar save for the making of Jellies or jams. The fruit looses its intense taste through long baking or boiling process thus prohibiting the use of the fruit for jellies or long-baked pies or dishes.

Until recently the fruit was believed to have no seeds. However a Brownie scholar using a magnifying glass has recently discovered hundreds of small black seeds that surround this core. Planting these seeds however, it was discovered that only one out of a hundred these seeds successfully bloomed into a vine confirming the theory that the Flaming Star Vine is mostly self-reproducing.

The knotted vines of the Flaming Star Vine also has some use. If one was to cut open a vine of the Flaming Star one would reveal a red extremely sticky syrup that if tasted is extremely burning, almost spicy, sweet taste. Discovering children cutting the vines to suck at this syrup gave a Manthria an idea and after much experimenting he came up with a creation he soon dubbed Flaming Knots. Flaming knots are produced by cutting a extremely knotted section of a Flaming Star vine away before the leaves turn red. Cuttings are usually taken from a extremely thick section or from the end of the plant in order to prevent to much damage to the plant itself. Cutting these massive knotted sections into individual knots usually no bigger than a child's palm, the cut ends are quickly sealed with an edible wax to prevent too much of the syrup from leaking from the vine. Because the syrup of the plant is thick, the cutters have a few moments to seal the individual knots before the syrup begins to slowly drizzle from the ends. Taking these individual knots back to the kitchen, these knots are placed in almost boiling water and cooked for about two hours or more. A confectioner knows the knots are ready when he can remove one of the wax seals and placing a testing finger to the narrow inside of the plant. The syrup once thick and sticky will slowly thicken to almost waxy consistency when the knot is finished thickening. Knots can either be boiled in sugar and cinna along with water to make Burning Flaming Knots or boiled in just plain water to produce just a regular knot.

The candies can then be sold to children with the skin and wax still on. Children then peel the skin and wax away either all at once or a little section at a time to reveal the waxy slightly sticky 'rope' as the syrup is then called. Candies are popular with children because of the slightly spicy almost burning sweet taste that causes their peers to dare them to eat the spicy candy. Mothers on the other hand are happy with the fact that the candies keep their children’s hands and faces from becoming too sticky, and also the fact that untangling a Flaming Knot can take hours for a fussy child to unwind. Flaming Knots can be self-produced but are seldom ever made by anyone but professionals as the water must be constantly kept at near boiling and yet never be allowed to reach full boil something which is hard to produce over a wood fire.

The Falling Star flowers and fallen leaves of the vine can also transformed in a rich vibrant reddish orange powder. The red dye produce from this powder is extremely vibrant, rich, and it takes surprisingly little of the powder produced from the Flaming Star Vine to stain a garment a pleasing red colour. There is one side-effect however; the red dye produced from the Falling Star flowers is extremely prone to fading and will fade to orange or even yellow after repeated washings.

Most dyers who know of this fading process will use it to their advantage. Transforming this seeming disadvantage into a huge profit. By tying certain parts of the garment with scrap cloth or twin and the dipping the still wet dyed cloth in water, re-wrapped and rinsing once more, can create elaborate multi-coloured garments that are not unpleasing to the eye. The Flaming Star Dye is pricey however as the amount of flowers and leaves it takes to produce even a small amount of powder is gargantuan. For example; to produce a small heap of powder about half a palm full (the amount necessary to dye about five garments an extremely rich colour) it would take the equivalent of two hebs of flowers and leaves.

Priest and Priestess of Etherus also burn the flowers as any offering to the god of excess and lust believing that the plant itself is a creation of Etherus. Followers of Etherus along the shore lines have also been known to use the flowers for its properties as a aphrodisiac. Return to the top

Reproduction. From the months of Turning Star to of Passing Cloud, the Flaming Star plant sends out new tendrils out from the old, dead vines, seeking to increase its growth every year. As the vines grow out of their old stems, leaves small at first begin to grow in their sword-like clusters. The Flaming Star has two blooming stages, a fruit flower stage and a secondary blooming stage.

The Fruit Flowers or Bursting Stars of the Flaming Star vine are arguable the more beautiful flower of the vine although the Flaming Stars of the second stage are beautiful in their own way. During the month of Turning Star the plant begins to send out new tendrils from older roots, and yellow-green bumps will form along with the vine as it grows starting barely bigger than the vine but growing in size as the vine grows until the protrusion is two nailsbreadths large. Once the tendrils have thicken slightly within the month of Molten Ice, this bumps will open to reveal beautiful flowers. Growing quickly these flowers will reach up to two palmspans large within two or three days after opening. Within the month of Molten Ice these gigantic fruit flowers thrive on the vine, and due to their size can be pollinated by most any insect or small bird. After being successfully pollinated, the Bursting Stars will close up revealing their very thorny green undersides. Over time, the Flaming Vines fruit will begin to develop within these sharply thorned sacks.

After the fruit sacks have formed shortly before the month of Changing Winds, the second blooming stage will begin and will continue to bloom until the first cool month. The Falling Star flowers of the Flaming Star vine are used by the vine to provide a food source in order to produce its fruit. As the Falling Stars are repeatedly pollinated, the will produce more flowers increasing their numbers. Each of these flowers will produce a sticky syrup in their center. Most of the syrup is used as a food source by the vine itself, but some is kept in the flowers to encourage pollination and reproduction of the tiny flowers.

Late in the month of Rising Sun or Burning Heavens, the fruit sack will begin to harden and thorns around the sack will dull until no longer dangerous to touch. After this has occurred the fruit will detach from the vine, signaling harvesting time. Using a very sharp knife or claws, one can peel away the tough thorny fruit sack to reveal the strange fruit of the Flaming Star vine. The Meldastar fruit is similar in colour and in some ways shape to the meldarapple, thus its name. If one would take the Meldapple and cover it with irregularly occurring twisting sharp spiraling orange protrusions, one would get a rough idea about how a Meldastar fruit looks like. The fruit is longer than a meldarapple due to the descending and spirally protrusions, but other than that it is the same size as the average meldarapple.

Because the seeds are so tiny that only a brownie with a magnifying glass can see them, they are generally believed to be non-existent. Seeds are not a successful means of reproducing the plant however as the seeds have little chance of making it though an animal's digestive system and even if they did only one out a hundred will successfully produce another plant. Meldastar fruits when not eaten by people are eaten by different types of plant-eaters that vary depending on the region where the Flaming Star vine is found.

The Falling Star flower does not produce seeds or fruit but it is generally confirmed among Brownies that the flower provides essential juices to the plant that helps the plant formate its fruit, form new vines, and to produce more flowers.

The plant will continue to grow new vines, new leaves, new flower tendrils, and new flowers even after the fruit has fallen of until the first cool month, generally the month of Fallen Leaf at it varies throughout the areas the plant grows. When the weather turns cool, the leaves will turn a vivid orange- red and the plant will shed both its leaves and blooms. The vine will continue to grow however, albeit at a slightly reduced growth rate, until the month of Passing Cloud. Over the winter, the year vines will turn brown and the plant will be dormant until the next growth season starting in Turning Star.

The Flaming Star vine is self-reproducing. The vines will send out tendrils when they touch suitable soil, separating from the old vine and start a new Flaming Star vine. It is also known that if you cut a brown section of the Flaming Star vine and place it in moist wet sandy soil, it will begin to produce new growth as if it were never dead. The Bursting Star flowers can be pollinated by most insects, but the Falling Star flowers of the second stage are almost exclusively pollinated by various types of midges. Return to the top

Myth/Lore. A poem from the Santharian province of Manthria:

Tangled Vine

I dream I am the tangled vine,
whenever our fingers intertwine.
You knot me with your fingers,
wherever they over my body linger.
Yet my secret knots I would unwind,
for a single touch of your lips to mine.

Ah that passionate kiss!
What sweet madness is this!

I dream that stars of heaven fall,
whenever your lips hold mine as thrall.
Lover's bed, our knotted hair,
will hold the stars captive there.
The stars will not heed night's call,
for a kiss, in my hair they will stall.

Ah that passionate kiss!
What sweet madness is this!

-'Tangled Vine', author unknown Return to the top

 

 Date of last edit 26th Turning Star 1670 a.S.

Information provided by Gwai'ayia Quillouf View Profile