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.
|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).
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.
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.
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.
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
Varieties. We can summarize the following known varieties of Hobbitweed as follows
This is the most common variety. Although this is the official name of the plant, it is still more commonly referred to as Hobbitweed, and sometimes Pipeweed or Smokeweed, by nearly everyone. The common variety of the plant is described in detail above. There are only a few varieties of Hobbitweed, the known ones are listed below, along with their differences from Westansweed.
This is the newest variety of Hobbitweed, having only been about for the last decade or so, and it looks very much like the common variety with two exceptions: the bright, orange flowers it yields and the orange-tinted stripe down the center of each leaf, which is visible even after the curing process.
Whisperleaf is so called because of the effect that one experiences after smoking a bit, for the smoker's hearing becomes sharper and the range increases. On the downside, one's sight becomes a bit fuzzy until the euphoria wears off. These effects were purely accidental when the strain was carefully bred by a Helmondsshire Hobbit called Melwin Burrowdown. This strain was so popular among the Helmondsshire Hobbits that Melwin and his family are now referred to as the Whisperleaves.
This variety of Hobbitweed has strong medicinal value. If smoked in sufficient quantity, Golden Halo works as a pain killer. A favorite among the elderly who tend to suffer from more aches and pains, Golden Halo is a difficult plant to tend to. It requires a huge amount of sunshine and plenty of water on a daily basis. It also is the slowest variety to mature and is the last one to be harvested - usually in the early months of winter. Early harvest produces a far less effective product, so growers usually wait until the first leaves fall off the plant before harvesting the rest. Because of the late harvest, Golden Halo takes more time to cure, delaying productivity even more.
Golden Halo tends to grow low and wide, which means for the same amount of Hobbitweed, more ground is needed. The leaves are a beautiful golden color and grow in a bushy circle around a single, narrow stalk. The flowers are the purest white color imagined and the petals, if picked in mid-summer, can be steeped for a pleasant-tasting tea that is very useful for easing headaches, toothaches and the like, but unfortunately, when the petals are dried they lose this fine quality (some mages - even those as far away as Ximax - and local clerics are trying to find a way to magically preserve these petals, but have been unsuccessful so far). Steeping or ingesting the leaves has a similar, if lesser, effect- so users commonly resort to smoking the Hobbitweed for full effect. Even at maturity, the short stalks are only good for firewood... unfortunately, this variety does not produce good, fibrous stalks.
Named for its uniquely thick, silver colored stock which sports a multitude of highly aromatic, silvery blue flowers, Silverrod is the rarest variety of Hobbitweed. The leaves are a very pale green and dusted with silver speckles. Other than its odd coloring, the plant looks very much like Westansweed and grows in the same climate and conditions.
The reason Silverrod is so rare is that during the growing season, especially near harvest time, these plants tend to mysteriously disappear. Some say that the plants are taken by the fey races during the night, others think that unscrupulous thieves scout out and steal the valuable plant from unfortunate farmers... whatever the reason, most Hobbitweed growers tend to shy away from planting this variety because whole crops have been known to vanish in one night! Because of this, the seeds are expensive too.
Besides using the Silverrod flower petals for fragrance in soaps, perfumes, incenses, sachets and the like, the main stalk, when dried, can be split up into strong threads which can be wound and braided into an exceptionally strong and flexible rope. Silverrod thread is wonderful for weaving too, creating a strong, silky material- although it rejects just about any kind of dye.
This strain of Hobbitweed, when smoked or used as incense, produces an intense feeling of euphoria that lasts for hours. Although this happy effect isn't addictive, it is highly sought after. When harvested, this variety sells quickly, adding to it's rarity. Additionally, of all the Hobbitweed varieties, Silverrod is the most likely to be used as snuff. A little goes a long way!
There are two main differences of this variety from the common plant. One is that this plant never flowers. The second is that instead of growing from seeds, this strain of Hobbitweed grows roots deep in the ground and will return every spring, even if the main plant is pulled completely from the ground. Clippings can be transplanted, but the plant always dies within a year of being moved. This Hobbitweed grows only in one place, which is just south east of Elverground, on the northern edge of the Zeiphyrian Forest. Because it can't be grown anywhere else, there are whispered rumors that the Blue Oasis plant is magical in nature. Many a fine hobbit has tried to figure out the puzzle... yet haven't to this day!
Although the leaves are nearly the same shape as any other Hobbitweed plant, they are blue in color. A single plant will range from a light silvery blue to a deep navy color. This Hobbitweed produces a blue-gray smoke and burns with a bright blue flame. Of all the varieties, Blue Oasis is the most relaxing. The effects of smoking this plant tend to be so calming that most people who smoke it will only do so in the evening or after some overexciting event. This variety makes a fine incense as well, with a lesser calming effect.
Information provided by Sough