THE NIGHTGRAPE FUNGUS

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Nightgrape is a fungus that grows on cave walls and ceilings, preferring the dark to the sunlight above ground. It will keep growing unless pruned if being cultivated for food and sticks to the walls and ceilings. The "grape" is usually grown by dwarves as a food and for making wine and vinegar. If a piece becomes detached it will keep on growing and create a new plant.

The Nightgrape naturally prefers deeper caves that are naturally formed because of the protection from the elements. Most of these caverns are vast and can be as big as whole cities. The remoteness of these caverns and caves are not helped by the fact that they can only be accessed through miniature tunnels. Even though (not sure how to word that) the Nightgrape has been harvested and carefully moved to the dwarvish cities willing to undertake the task of growing and harvesting the fruit. Because of this the Nightgrape is relatively well known plant that dwarves have harvested for many years.


Appearance. The Nightgrape is a fungus that sticks to cave walls and ceilings drawing energy from the minerals in the rock. It is a dark, semi-translucent colour with bulging purple veins, it seems to root itself wherever it touches the living rock, by sending out tiny tendrils into every crack and imperfection on the rock face. The plant will keep growing and can cover a whole section of cave within a short period of time.

The name "Nightgrape" comes from the appearance of the black, grape shaped globules that are the fruit of the Nightgrape. The fruit of the Nightgrape hang from little branches that stick out from the main plant. You can tell when the fruit is ready to be eaten because it will be a very dark black. The fruit of the Nightgrape can grow to have a diameter of a quarter of a ped although by that time it is most likely to have fallen of the branch.

The plant grows by sending branches with a moss-like texture all over the surface of the rock. The tiny tendrils from these branches are what keep the plant attached to the wall. This is why the base of the fungus will send out multiple main branches that in turn separate into other branches forming a huge network to harvest minerals and anchor the plant to the wall.

Domesticated versions of the Nightgrape have been selectively bred to produce larger and more grapes on a single plant. The plant can grow as quickly as 2 ped square per week and requires constant pruning. The Nightgrape cannot be trained on trellises because the huge root system puts to much weight on it and will overpower it and just keep growing. 
Return to the top

Territory. The Nightgrape will grow in any cave it can find, natural or not, from the mass of underground routes. It is, however, mainly found in the caves of the eastern province Manthria in southern Sarvonia in general. Dwarven records show that its origin appears to mainly be Manthrian but dwarves have successfully 'transplanted' it by moving it in complete darkness to the desired location. Some dwarves have tried to move it to other cave systems and have had reasonable success appart from the rare mishaps when the plant came into contact with sunlight.

The Nightgrape was successfully moved to other caves through underground tunnels and attached to walls to be bred for food. When moved it has to be moved by night or by tunnels. This is because the fungus reacts badly with light, the branches wither and fall to dust while the fruit will gradually expand and explode, all this happens almost instantly when it comes into contact with light. Although it can be moved by taking the spores and moving them whilst kept in the dark, but for some unknown reason it is quite hard to grow domesticated plants from spore form. The plant, due to the way it feeds is very dependent on what rock it grows on, this fact makes it harder to move.
Return to the top

Usages. The Nightgrape is only farmed by dwarves due to the plant's choice of location and habitat. The dwarves are the only race that is persistent enough to grow it. Most of the plant can be harvested, but the most commonly used part of the fungus is the fruit that is helps making a special form of wine as well as an interesting type of vinegar. If cooked slowly the grape and branch can be mixed into a stew or used separately to make Nightgrape pie.

The globule called the grape can be eaten raw but it will lead to a fever. Some brave - or crazy - dwarves are in the process of experimenting with the branches to see if it can be smoked or the dust from the dead branches has any hallucinogenic powers. When domesticated the plant has to be pruned regularly.

It has now become common practise that dwarven healers take branches of Nightgrape outside and mix the dust with water to create a smelling salt to wakeup fainted or unconscious dwarves.  
Return to the top

Reproduction. The Nightgrape reproduces in a complex system of underground tunnels and sporing inside the caves. Sometimes part of the plant will get separated from the main plant, when this happens the part that is separated will form a new plant and continue growing in the same way. The spores of the plant will stick to a creature that brushes the grape and drop of at a later point. The spores are released at a point above the grape where it meets the branch. The most common creature that the spores attach to are flittermice. With domesticated plants they are given a helping hand by the dwarves grape farmers that employ children to brush up against the plant and then brush up against another part of the wall.
Return to the top

Myth/Lore. Several Thergerim sayings have developed thanks to the Nightgrape such as “It's sticking like Nightgrape” and “Gossip grows like the Nightgrape but is far less useful”. It is also believed that the first Nightgrape was grown and discovered by accident when a famous dwarven explorer rubbed against the plant and then a piece of rock in a Mitharim cave after leaving on it for support after some disappointing news. Unless mixed or cooked properly the grape can lead to a fever, this is a well-known fact and is a commonly used practical joke, with young dwarves tricking each other into eating raw grapes and sometimes getting a day or two of school. Young dwarves are sometimes employed to collect spores and then brush them off on to the rocks are usually called grapers because of the plant. In a common retake of the emblem of the Mitharim dwarves the Nightgrape grape is used in the centre, this is because of the amount of room the dwarves leave and give the plant. Return to the top

 Date of last edit 16th Fallen Leaf 1667 a.S.

Information provided by Thortar View Profile