THE HONEYNUT SQUASH

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Honeynut Squash is a common squash grown throughout the Kingdom of Santharia, though it prefers the moderate temperatures of Xaramon, Enthronia, and Vardýnn. The squash itself is long and bulbous in shape, a little plumper at one end than the other, and is usually orange or orange-yellow in colour, though it may also come in orange-brown. Honeynut Squashes are commonly harvested in autumn and used in any number of dishes including casseroles and breads.

Appearance. The Honeynut Squash plant, like many squash plants, is a vining plant. From a single seedling it creeps across the earth, releasing roots to burrow into the ground for nutrients. Honeynut Squash is a hardy plant that can expand easily, growing into a 2 ped by 2 ped plot quickly.

The roots, pale in colour, are shallow, so Honeynut Squash is often grown in close proximity to corn, whose root system does not compete with the squash. In addition, the Honeynut squash’s large leaves shade the ground, helping to prevent weeds from cropping up. The leaves are a pale or dusty green colour, and can expand to nearly two palmspans long. The leaves are five-lobed with pointed ends and rough edges, but are very soft and supple. The undersides are covered in a fine fur.

Come late summer, the Honeynut Squash plant produces large, orange-yellow flowers, not unlike lily flowers. Five-petalled and occasionally freckled by small black or brown spots, the flowers can expand to the size of a large man’s hand. They are lovely and it’s tempting to pluck them to decorate one’s dinner table or place it the kitchen window, particularly as they are rather sweet-smelling. However, to do so would be to rob oneself of the delectable treasures to come.

The flowers wither away by early autumn and begin to form into fruit. The left-over base of the flower grows larger and larger, turning from light green to yellow to Sor'inyt orange and swelling until it is a fore and a half long! - though of course, they can get much larger. According to the Dogodan Honeynut Squash Competition Historical Registry, the largest Honeynut Squash grown among the tribe was a few nailsbreadths shy of a ped long!

The Honeynut Squash is usually harvested in mid to late autumn, though it will keep all winter if stored in a cool place. Cut into it, and you’ll smell the reason for the squash’s name, for its aroma is sweet and nutty (an apt reflection of its taste). The seeds of the Honeynut Squash, located in a hollow pocket in the plumpest section of the fruit, are several, usually about half a nailsbreadth long and orange-coloured.
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Territory. The Honeynut Squash can be found throughout the Kingdom of Santharia, from the warm farms bordering Bardavos to the magical gardens of Ximax Academy, from the rolling hills of the Dogodan Hobbits to the peaceful grounds of the Duke of Nermeran. The Honeynut Squash is an adaptable plant, and will grow most anywhere provided the land isn’t too shady and the soil isn’t too wet.

Though many Honeynut Squash seeds can be sown at once, the average gardener doesn’t generally plant but a handful per season (usually in mid-summer). Particularly in mid-Santharia, where the squash grows with great fecundity, it’s a waste of seeds to plant more than a few a time. With the Honeynut Squash, the most important tip is not to over-water it; most gardeners don’t need to water it but every other day while it is sprouting, and then leave it alone until harvest.
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Usages. Perhaps the most obvious use of the Honeynut Squash is as a food item. Because of its prevalence, it has worked its way into all sorts of dishes. For the lazy cook, roasting bite-size pieces of the squash over a flame is a satisfying autumn repast; a baker might find a suitable use for the squash as an addition to breads and muffins. Those for whom cooking is a métier may work the Honeynut Squash into a flavourful casserole, a frabjous stuffing, or a soothing soup. The squash can even simply be cooked, mashes, and served with a bit of butter (and just a splash of citrus!) as a compliment to roast taenish or cured ham.

Ingesting the Honeynut Squash is assumed to have some positive somatic benefits: it is generally assumed to kill or weaken internal parasites, such as worms. For those who suffer mightily from such deleterious pests, it is recommended you see your local herbalist. He or she will likely have some sort of salubrious mixture that includes Honeynut Squash seeds that have been roasted, ground, and mixed with oils and a dash of lemon juice. Depending on the progression of your bodily infestation, it will likely be recommended you take a bit of this concoction 2-3 times a day. And consuming a bit of the squash itself on a regular basis couldn’t hurt either!
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Reproduction. The Honeynut Squash has a fairly well-observed lifecycle. From a small seed, planted in the good, dry soil in early or mid-summer, a seedling will sprout in about a week, and quickly expand into curious tendrils moving over the ground like a leafy fog. In mid- or late summer, the flowers will blossom, inviting malise and other insects to bathe in their pollen before they depart.

In early autumn, the squash has already begun to swell, growing larger and larger (and oranger and oranger) until they reach maturity in mid to late autumn, when they are harvested. If kept in cool conditions, the squash can last all winter, though they have come to define the colours of autumn, and are happily consumed during this season. Farmers may collect the seeds, which will last until next season, when they are planted and the cycle starts again.
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Myth/Lore. While the Honeynut Squash has not particular stories connected to it, it’s worth mentioning that the squash has strong associations with Jeyriall. Whenever Jeyriall is depicted with a harvest, there is almost always a Honeynut Squash among the corn and gourds in her cornucopia. The squash itself has, in some ways, helped to define the autumn season, and many hobbits say that winter comes not until the Honeynut Squash is roasted (or the Honeynut Squash bread is baked, or the Honeynut Squash casserole is cooked… I suppose it really depends on the hobbit).
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 Date of last edit 16th Awakening Earth 1673 a.S.

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