THE JESHANNA LILY ("PHOENIX FLOWER")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - REPRODUCTION - USAGES - MYTH/LORE

This simple but spectacular bloom is a member of the lily family, although its long curving stems resemble a vine. The flower is an elongated cup or horn shape, which expands as it blooms and changes colour. It is notable for two qualities: first, its trick of blooming from bud to full-blown flower in a single day, which it then repeats daily until its three-month season is over, and second, its powerful medicinal qualities. It is also often refered to as "Shanna Lily", "Phoenix Flower", "Timelily" or "Firecup").

The Jeshanna Lily

View picture in full size Image description. The tubes of the Jeshanna Lily. Pic by Jeshannon.

Appearance. The early buds sprout overnight as slim tubes about the length of a hobbit, or a human baby's finger, and are first visible (at dawn) as a pale mauve color. By noon the tube has begun to open into a horn shape and darkened into a rich pink or even purple hue. Some people claim to be able to tell the exact time of the day to within minutes by the shade and shape of the Jeshanna (thus one of its other names, "Timelily"), and indeed it is fairly simple to guess within an hour or so, if the weather is moderate and not cloudy. By about three hours past noon the flower has assumed its fully-open simple cup shape and begun to take on a deep scarlet colour, which will later dull to a russet or rust reminiscent of a mature shir's coat in the early evening. As the sun goes down, the blooms which have begun as buds at dawn are already drooping and furling back into soft tubes again, and before moonrise will have fallen from their calyxes to free new growing space for the buds of the next day.

Both its brilliant colourations and its ability to renew itself daily have earned it the alternate name of "Phoenix Flower", while the nickname "Firecup" is obviously a reference to its medicinal qualities.

The vines upon which the blooms are borne are narrow and curling, a deep green shade with streakings and mottlings of dark purple here and there. Dainty tendrils and paler leaves sprout at irregular intervals along the vines, and small ‘pea’-filled pods will eventually emerge from just under each tendril, ready to burst out in the fall.
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Territory. The Jeshanna is native to the Sarvonia continent. It prefers shaded, moist, slightly cooler climates such as forest undergrowth, near springs and lakes, and rock crevices in certain mountain ranges. It flourishes through most of the elven forests and is particularly lush in central Sarvonia. When transplanted to gardens it requires acidic, damp soil and indirect sunlight throughout the daylight hours.
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Reproduction. The flowers bud in the fourth, fifth, and sixth months of the year, Changing Winds (Mééh'avashín), Singing Bird (Alé'veván) and Rising Sun (Dáál'injeráá). Leaves usually emerge a few weeks earlier, and the vines themselves last through the fall and early winter, drying slowly to a greyish-lavender shade which is quite lovely in wreaths and flower arrangements. If picked in sufficient length before too dry to handle, the vines can also be woven and braided into decorative baskets, although they do not hold up under prolonged usage as wolf willow and river birch would.

During the month of Rising Sun the vines begin to sprout small pods from just under their tendrils, each pod holding four to five tiny greenish-grey ‘peas’. The pods dry in the sun and in the autumn finally burst open, scattering the ‘pea’ seeds up to a ped away from the original plant. Myrmex, orm, and other ground insects feed on the seeds – although they are inedible by humans – but enough survive from year to year so that the plant spreads. The original vines continue to grow from their root stock each spring as well, expanding by means of their clinging tendrils.
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The Jeshanna Oil

View picture in full size Image description. A bottle of Jeshanna Ointment, remedy for burns and rashes. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.

Usages. This bloom is a sovereign and specific remedy for burns and rashes; in fact, any inflammation or dehydration of the skin. The active principle is found in the actual flowers of the lily, which fortunately are prolific, and equally fortunately is retained in the withered blooms for a short time as well as the fresh. Thus the petals can be picked away in the early evening, or a cloth laid out at night to catch the falling blooms, as long as within the next few hours they are processed.

The blooms are laid on a metal tray that has been first coated with wax from a malisecomb, then spread thickly with a layer of oil or lard (animal or vegetable grease can both be used). The full trays are then placed in a warm, sealed area - usually a sort of specially-constructed bakeoven used only for floral distillation, which has a separate fire source that can be kept at a low temperature. After a week of marination, the petals are removed and discarded, and the warm oil which is now infused with the Jeshanna's scent and active power is poured into dark green glass bottles and sealed with a small plug of the scented malisewax and the distiller's stamp.

One well-known and reliable alchemist in the Santhala region uses the symbol of a malisebee whose wings are represented by stylized flames, and Jeshanna Ointment so marked usually commands a higher price for its purity and efficaceousness.
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Myth/Lore. The Jeshanna is associated with the mythical phoenix, for its habit of budding, dying, and being renewed from day to day. Young lovers in Santhala are advised not to give bouquets of Jeshanna blooms because – despite their constant renewal – they are a reminder of the transitory nature of life. It is for this same reason that in the southern parts of Santharia the blossoms are strewn at funerals.
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Information provided by Bard Judith View Profile