THE IN'ILÁ SHRUB ("CLIMBER")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION

The In’ilá (Styrásh In’ilá, "climber", lit. "to scale unmoving, e.g. rock face"), is an evergreen shrub, closely related to the cloewen tree. Like its wild Quallian relative a sparse, straggly, shrub, though this sub-species has a climbing habit, often found wound around the trunks of other trees and through branches.

Appearance. The In’ilá eminates from a trunk, that grows to no more than 0.2 peds in height. From this low level, the In’ilá sprouts long flexible branches that look rather more like vines than branches. As the tree often grows deep in the forest, these branches often grow to great heights, demonstrating a climbing habit, they wind their way around the trunks of other trees to reach the light found higher in the canopy.

However, generating such long branches is time comsuming (even if the In’ilá is quicker growing than any of its three relatives) and energy consuming. The In’ilá may conserve its energy by rooting in knolls of other, taller trees, forming a parasitic relationship with the host tree. This is achieved by an adaptation unique to the In’ilá, not shared by its relatives. It has the ability to generate a physiological bridge between its self and the host tree, instead of generating the traditional root system. Seeds land on the host tissue, especially in bird droppings, and germinate after reading a chemical stimulus from the host. A modified root is generated that becomes an Ormium (borrower); this root is chemotrophic, i.e., responding to a chemical gradient, and contacts the host tissue. The root then attaches by pushing against the plant and forming a disc, and secretes a sugar based adhesive. The root tip then mechanically penetrates the host and establishes a vascular connection by attaching vessels and positioning phloem (the tissue that carries sugars in all plants) next to that of the host phloem. Plants rely on diffusion to distribute nutrients, thus the phloem must be 'leaky', allowing the adjacent In’ilá phloem to steal from its host. This has the added advantage for the In’ilá in that it is then closer to the canopy top, and can begin utilizing light almost upon germination. Thus the In’ilá is often found wound around other trees.

The most visible similarity between the In’ilá and the cloewen tree is in the shape of the leaves (almost identical in size, colour and texture to those of the cloewen tree) that are held all year round and the large pale pink flowers, that are longer lasting than those of the cloewen tree. After flowering the plant develops large pink berries that are the favourite food of many forest dwelling birds.

The plant is widely cultivated among both humans and elves, being a popular climber, grown around doors and windows. However, full trees can be cultivated if original out shoots are removed, forcing the tree to grow upward and form a trunk. Such cultivation is considered by many elven tribes to be an art form.
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Territory. The In’ilá requires a long growing season, especially after germination, to allow the tree to become established. As a result it does not do well in the more northerly parts of Santharia, the cold winters, and night frosts often prove fatal for young specimens. Thus, it is rarely found north of the Heath of Jernais. In’ilá flourish in the warm southerly forests of the Zeiphyr, the Auturian Woods and the Sharadon Forests. Strangely they are not found in the Quallian. This may be because they are out competed by several very fast growing vines unique to the Quallian.
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Usages. The berries of the In’ilá are edible, and indeed when the plant is growing parasitically the adapted root can be cut out and is rumoured to taste rather like fish. Berries also have a slight laxative effect, are often used medically in large amounts to flush human systems of toxins. The In’ilá, like the other members of the group, produce the characteristic black honey though it is sweeter than many of the other types.
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Reproduction. The main thing that marks the In’ilá as a member of the cloewen family is that each tree only has one sex of flower. This is highly unusual in that the tree cannot self pollinate if necessary! This is advantageous for variation, but means that if cross pollination does not occur that flower will not produce seeds.

Flowers must be pollinated by bees or small birds seeking nectar kept at the very back of the flower. Seeds develop very quickly after pollination inside small fleshy pink berries. They are very bitter until the seeds are ripe, so preventing the fruit being consumed by animals and birds too early. Distribution of seeds is predominantly by animal excretion of the seeds.
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