THE ZHUN GERANIUM FLOWER

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Zhun Geranium is a somewhat common flower found on the mild tempered plains of Zhun. They come in a whole spectrum of colours, from delicate blues and lilacs to more loquacious purples and reds. There also used to be a variety of this plant known as the "Black Geranium", though it was limited only to the area known as Nybelmarasa (or Naezshan Zhunith in the high tongue of Aca-Santerra), but after the cataclysm known as "The Breaking" (or the "Year of Darkness" on Sarvonia) the fertile plains were stripped off all their flora, leaving this rare variety almost extinct. There is only one known Black Geranium to the Compendium’s knowledge, which supposedly is cased in an enchanted glass jar in the Witch Queen of Marmarra’s palace. Eluda, the first Witch Queen, crafted it and using her Krean seed-shaping abilities, ensured the flower would never die. It is said though, that if the case is opened, the rare flower will dry and up and turn to dust.

Appearance. The Zhun Geranium can grow in two different ways. The first is in a large carpet-like group with many other Geraniums, which can be very entertaining if different varieties are present, making a large collection of different colours (that seem to attract small Zhunite girls regularly). The second is to grow alone. Though this is less a spectacle than the bushes of Geraniums, Geraniums that grow in this fashion tend to grow taller than those in the common structure. A Geranium looks like a very generic flower, to a rational botanist anyway. It consists of a peridot green stem that is usually somewhere in the area of three palmspans tall (normally around six to seven nailsbreaths will be added to the height of a Geranium that grows by itself), which at a point around three thirds of the total height leaves sprout.

These leaves are shaped similar to that of the oak tree, only smaller in size. At the end of this stem there are five petals, which share a shape similar to a teardrop, they are only slightly wider. These petals can come in a huge variety of colours, ranging from blues, lilacs, purples, greens, reds and oranges. The rarest colour of all though (spare the Black Geranium that only has one confirmed specimen left) is the White Geranium. The White Geranium is said to represent innocence, and as such many would wear them to hearings at court where they have been accused.

One of the more peculiar features of the Geranium Flower is, unlike most flowers, its pollen is dark blue (though instances have been recorded where it is black). On very windy days during spring, it is not uncommon for large bushes of Geraniums to have their pollen blown into the wind (even though they rely predominately on insects for reproduction), creating a gust of what appears to be dark sand.

Zhun Geranium Flowers also have very sweet scents. As such they are sometimes used in perfumes or to flavour the famous Zhunite Rice wine. Boiling unopened buds and then draining out the fluid extracts the scent. It is then either bottled and sold or added to fermenting rice wine to give it an extra burst of flavour (as well as a warrant for a higher price).
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Territory. The Zhun Geranium Flower (as the name openly suggests) is found in the Plains of Zhun. Numerous different species are known to inhabit the Dragon’s Back region. In locations closer to Karakan the concentration of reds and oranges is much higher than in other areas (which some attribute to the Dragon Lord Seras, the patron deity of the settlement) and in areas around Cusca pale and icy blues are common. There is also one notable bed of solely white Geraniums near Hootar, known in the area as "The Desert Snow" due to its strange appearance from a distance.

The flower is so popular on the continent of Nybelmar that the Lost Ones still capable of seed-shaping on the Shar peninsula are known to cultivate small gardens of these flowers. This is something that normally amuses the Zhunites, who have had the Krean in past glorify themselves in comparison.
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Usages. [The Zhun Geranium itself has one main use. Various varieties of the Zhunite rice wine (most notably those producing in the fields of Arroza) use the nectar and petals of the flower as part of the mixture during the fermentation period. This is sometimes to add flavour or to prevent the bitter or sharp taste that some wines have.
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Reproduction. Primarily, the Zhun Geranium depends on pollination by various insects, such as the malise. The sweet scent of the flower in conjunction with the vibrant colours is perfect to attract the attention of the creatures. They also have very unique nectar that is thought to have a smell too fine for the human nose to smell. The nectar itself is incredibly viscous, and also undeniably sweet.

When an insect tries to extract the nectar of this plant they are covered in the flower’s dark pollen. In fact the dark pollen completely masks the creature, leading at one point for the Zhunite men to believe that there were various dark blue insects, while these were only regular insects covered in the pollen. Continuing, the creature coated in pollen is likely to visit another flower, transferring the pollen from one flower to another, fertilising the flower.

Should this fail though, Zhun Geraniums also have a back-up mechanism. The pollen-holding appendage of the flower begins to harden and breaks down. The wind normally will carry this pollen hopefully to another flower. This method though only seems to work on the bush-like structures of flowers, since it is very unlikely that pollen will find its way to an individual flower.
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Myth/Lore. The Zhun Geranium flower has many different connotations. The White Geranium has been a symbol of purity and innocence in Zhunite culture for a long time. It is normally worn when one attends a trial as the accused, or by a bride in her hair on her wedding day. It is also a custom to drink rice wine infused with White Geranium on a celebration of a baby’s birth.

The Orange Geranium is common symbol of the Dragon Lord Seras, and therefore is often worn by Karakanites, especially the fire-wielding priests of the Dragon temple.

The Yellow Geranium is a symbol of luck, and seeing one on a journey is thought to entail safety (physical or otherwise). Many diplomats have intended for the return route of foreign visitors to pass through known paths where many Yellow Geraniums were known to be, in order to reassure the ambassador of his decision.

Conversely, the dark Purple Geranium is related to some as bad luck (and also Marmarrans). Whenever a diplomat had a disagreement with a visiting politician he would normally send them back home past large bushes of Purple Geraniums to make them regret their decision. It is also customary for many criminal groups in Zhun to give the flower to the victim before they are murdered.

In addition to the above, the Green Geranium is normally associated with youth. There is a rumour that if you eat ten Green Geraniums every day you will appear younger to any man that meets you, leading many elderly (or vain) women to take up this habit. There is also a phrase, which emerged from this: "Geranium Beauty". It is commonly used to describe someone who has beauty, but it is artificial and achieved through cosmetics and the like.
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 Date of last edit 22nd Burning Heavens 1667 a.S.

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