THE HOBBITWEED ("PIPEWEED", "SMOKEWEED")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE - VARITIES

Hobbitweed (also known as "Pipeweed" or "Smokeweed") is almost exclusively grown by halflings in the world of Caelereth although, as the convention of smoking Hobbitweed grows among the other races, some human farmers have started cultivating small crops in recent decades.

A hobbit smoking pipeweed
Image description. A hobbit with his pipe smoking some pipeweed. Picture drawn by Arbaon.

Hobbitweed is now entering competition with other forms of smokable plants in the realms of Caelereth, such as the desert-grown Ai'vhin and its cultivated derivate, the famous Vhin, and also the gnomish Pipemoss varieties. It should be noted that sometime there is confusin between Hobbitweed-Pipeweed and Pipemoss-Pipeweed, due to the same common name, but it is readily apparent which is which when looking at the product side by side. Because smoking is a recreational pastime that was slow to germinate in most cultures, there hasn't been much of a market for it until recent times.

No one knows when Hobbitweed was first discovered, who found it or how it was put to its unusual use- but those who do partake of this immensely enjoyable pastime are grateful to whoever that person was! It should be noted that Hobbitweed is not a vhin-like plant, as it is not addictive and is only smoked for its flavors and affects.

Most hobbits will defend Hobbitweed, should anyone claim it a nasty habit. Cultivating Hobbitweed is a credible livelihood for many hobbits in every shire, and no farmer is ever looked down on for growing it... at least not within the hobbit communities.


Appearance. The basic Hobbitweed plant is a single plant only growing to a bushy one ped diameter on average which rests on a short, thick stock next to the ground.  The leaves, a variety of green shades from medium to dark, are elongated, wider on the ends, and flow in a smooth curve to a single point. These sprout from multiple shoots into many tight clusters.

Once annually, each plant will produce a single flowering stock that grows straight up and tops out at nearly two ped in height. The towering stock consists of pale pink, white or blue flowers in an oblong clutch, interspersed with pointy greenery, and seed groupings for future germination.

This plant grows best in a temperate climate, with plenty of sunlight and water. It does not do well in shade, or arid plains. Grasses and vines tend to sap all of the necessary nutrients out of the ground that Hobbitweed needs to properly grow. Thus, the earth around the plants must be weeded regularly.

The growth cycle of the Hobbitweed is once a year. Seedlings are planted in late spring and the leaves are harvested in the early fall, just before the plant begins to wither (exception is the Blue Oasis variety, listed below).  
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Territory. So far, the Hobbitweed has only been seen growing in and around the Hobbit-Shires of Santharia and then usually only on farmed land. Low hills in temperate regions are where this plant thrives. Sunny meadows, alongside steady streams are the few places that Hobbitweed has been found in the wild.

It can be noted that one enterprising hobbit, has managed to raise a few plants in an oasis in southern Sarvonia, but this is an extremely rare occurrence.
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Usages. Hobbitweed is used exclusively for smoking and is a favorite recreational pastime for many a hobbit, and a fair amount of humans too. Although usually not medicinal in nature, those that do smoke it will claim it relaxes them and some strains of Hobbitweed can induce certain levels of euphoria in the smoker. Some enjoy the scent of Hobbitweed smoke in the air, much like incense, while never smoking it directly themselves.

Additionally, other parts of the plant can be used: the main stalk is strong and light once dried out, becoming a quality, lightweight wood. The upper stalk (or flower stalk) provides long fibers that can be woven and dyed. The variety of side products is listed below, under Stalk Preparation.

Preparation/Curing. Alternate preparation for varieties is included with each separate variety description.

The Harvest. Harvesting the basic Hobbitweed variety is hard work, yet very simple done. First, the plants are razed close to the ground. The entire crop is cut on the same day to keep the crop consistent. Several plants are tightly bound at their base with a strong twine and are either carted or dragged to a curing hut- a long, low-vaulted, rectangular building, much like a smokehouse in appearance. These bundles are then inverted and strung up on multiple rafters inside the curing hut. The plants are left in the darkness until they dry out completely, which takes 2-3 weeks depending on current humidity. (If taken down too soon, the end product could be ruined by mold, which grows later on in storage.)

While the crop is curing, the plots are tilled and the Hobbitweed roots are pulled up from the ground. These roots are usually tossed in a pile to be used later on as firewood. After the roots dry, they are easily broken up to use as kindling.

Leaf preparation. Once dried out, the leaves look shriveled and shrunken to a quarter of their original size, curling in toward the stem into little "buds". Additionally, the leaves' color darkens several shades from the original. Working one bundle at a time, the leaves are clipped off with shears, usually in whole bunches by the main stem. These bunches are tossed into a barrel-like, leather-lined baskets, with tight-fitting lids, for long-term storage.

The dried flowers are decorative and sometimes saved for display or art projects. Most are usually "seeded" (searched for seeds which are then kept dry in a clay jar until the next planting season) and then tossed on a compost heap.

Stalk preparation. The remainder of the plant, the stalks, is sorted by size and type. The main plant stocks, usually less than a ped long, are thick and sturdy. These can be carved to decorative walking sticks, fashioned into lightweight furniture, used for fencing, firewood, etc.

The thinner, suppler, flower stalks are stripped of the outside layer and the inner fibers are separated into fine threads. These threads can be woven and dyed to make a variety of cloth, similar to linen. They can be braided, tied or twisted into string, twine or rope. The fibers also can be pounded, mashed and made into paper if one has the skill. Added to crushed rock or clay, this pulpy compound can be used as plaster to finish the inner walls of above-the-ground hobbit dwellings, too.

There are many more uses for the Hobbitweed stalks than even for the leaf, as can be seen... uses limited only to a hobbit's imagination. Thus, as an annually renewable crop, the hobbits value this plant highly.
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Reproduction. Pollination occurs by gusts of wind and/or pollen bearing insects such as malise and butterflies. Harvested seeds may last indefinitely- this theory has yet to be tested - and grow quicker when planted under a thin layer of dark earth. Some plants have survived by seeds scattering on the wind, but not many which is why these plants aren't seen too often in the wild.
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Myth/Lore. There is an unsubstantiated rumor that Hobbitweed was first introduced to hobbits by humans in ages long past. Given that the name for the most common type is dubbed "Westansweed", this rumor may be more fact than fiction.

Some hobbit quotes concerning Hobbitweed: Hobbitweed is to hobbits, as catnip is to cats..." -Fergrimm the Ranger.

"No air so sweet,
No smoke a treat,
As Hobbitweed on an evening...

Just add the fire,
It will inspire,
There's nothing more enlightening..."
- Cherrywine Thistledown, poet in training
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Varieties. We can summarize the following known varieties of Hobbitweed as follows

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