Juk’lan shrub (lit. “happy mouth”) is a low, bushy shrub which grows north of
the Tandalas and along most of the
rivers in northern Sarvonia, right up to
the Icelands. It is used in some foods and also to make a pungent tasting (hence
the name) medicinal drink by the Kuglimz
and most, if not all, of the other northern peoples.
Appearance. The Juk’lan is an evergreen shrub, growing in great profusion throughout the wetland areas of the North. It is quite thick and bushy and usually grows in large dense clusters, covering as much as a hold at a time. It is easily recognizable by its strong but not unpleasant scent, and is almost always found in conjunction with the waterberry plant. It is most commonly observed to grow in peatlands, swamps, and wet coniferous forest areas. The stems are thick and woody, and the leaves grow in thick clusters. Each individual leaf is a about 1-3 nailsbreadths long, and four or five grains wide, a dark green colour, thick and almost leathery in texture. The edges of the leaves curl under slightly. The undersides of the leaves are covered with a light reddish fuzz, which gives the plant its strong scent. Unlike most other plants, Juk'lan produces no flowers or fruit (see Reproduction). It is a tough, hardy plant. It can even survive fire, for the roots go deep into the wet soil. It is one of the first plants to recover after fire damage and grows rapidly.
A variant of Juk'lan which grows only in the Osthemangar region and which was identified by the botanist Eleanna Kalrinwenens or rather her expedition to the area, is similar to the normal plant in general conformation. It is quite thick and bushy, grows best in damp or marshy areas, and the leaves are identical in shape and size. However, that is where the similarities end. This variant, called "Brimstoneweed" by Eleana and "Juk'lan'yale" ("Burning Juk'lan") by her Kuglimz assistants and co-workers, has yellow gray leaves and instead of the pleasantly pungent scent of normal Juk'lan, gives off a pervasively stomach roiling stench of rotted eggs. It is not poisonous and may be consumed, but without any of the qualities which make normal Juk'lan an desirable beverage. Anything made with this variety smells disgusting, tastes worse, and induces vast quantities of foul smelling flatus, so very little experimentation has been done with this plant. It is thought to be responsible for the explosive quality of the dung produced by the darkmist whelp, an unlovely ape-like beast which frequents the Osthemangar region.
Territory. Anywhere where there is water in Northern Sarvonia, there is likely to be Juk’lan. It grows from the Celeste Lowlands all the way up to the tree line and the Icelands, from the Sea of Tears to the Kanapan peninsula.
Usages. Most northern tribes use juk’lan to make a medicinal drink, by drying and steeping the leaves in hot water, much as cha is made. It is often combined with waterberry juice, and is known to prevent the “Lor’ang’urg” disease (lit. “winter weakness”) caused by lack of fresh fruits and greens (known to shipmen as “scurfy”). This is particularly important in a country where winter lasts such a long time. It is said to be good for breathing ailments, urinary tract infections, and sleep disorders, though one has to be careful not to make it too strong.
Juk’lan is also used to make "Flemmyklan’lor", or "Flemmi" (lit. “strong happymeatfruit”) a concoction which Kuglimz use as travel rations, containing dried meat, fruit and other things [*]. It is highly sustaining, extremely nourishing, and lasts for a long time.
Juk’lan may also be used to make a strong dark brown dye, which does not fade much and will colour nearly anything. This is done by cooking the fresh (not dried) leaves, along with some twigs from the plant in boiling water, letting it sit for two days while stirring occasionally. Then the dye is ready to use, once the leaves and twigs are strained out . Because it is an evergreen, Juk’lan is also a common browse plant for many Northern animals - Tirpans, elks, leverets, Kev’lor horses, just to name a few.
Reproduction. This plant does not drop seeds to reproduce itself, for it spreads from the roots. Even if the ground is burnt bare and no other plants survive, Juk’lan will sprout again from the old root system. The root system of a Juk’lan plant grows bigger every year, and though the roots go deep, they also come back up to the surface and sprout again, which is why Juk’lan tends to grow so profusely.
Myth/Lore. There are a couple of sayings associated with this plant, one of which is based on the fact that it is nearly always found in conjunction with the waterberry. The Kuglimz say of any relationship that seems to be particularly close, that the people involved are “like Juk’lan and waterberry” (lit. “Juk’lan’myk’pyrl’kah”). They refer to something that is commonplace or ordinary as “Juklankah” (lit. “like Juk’lan”) and this has become their word for whatever is expected or usual.
[*] The receipt has been made available to Dame Sausade, who plans to incorporate it in her cookbook for the Compendium. [back]
Information provided by Alysse the Likely