THE PHEASANT GRASS

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

Tawny plumes of seed heads decorate this longstemmed wild gold grass. Also a major component of the plains ecosystem, Pheasant Grass grows from one to two peds high in small copses or thickets. It dries quickly and is very attractive, keeping its shiny golden colour and not dropping seedheads everywhere. Birds thrive on the grain, and horses enjoy the cut dried "pheasant hay" in the winter.

The earliest known usage of the name "Pheasant Grass" is from the Centoraurians, who noted that the variegated shades of the grass resembled the colours of pheasant plumage when the plant first begins to bloom. Pheasant Grass is called "injèr'echár" in Styrásh (literally "sun grass") due to its golden hues.

A pheasant wreath

View picture in full size Image description. Lýth’bél berries are brightly adorning this "Jeyring" of Pheasant Grass, seen here newly placed upon a door before the colour has changed to korwyn gold. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.

Appearance. This warm-season perennial grass grows in clumps up two peds both tall and wide under optimal conditions, with most grass growing between one and one and a half peds tall and wide. The roots are equally as long as the stem or slightly longer, typically two peds long and wide. This flat stemmed grass has long and slender leaf blades. These smooth, needlelike leaves grow to two to four palmspans long by one grain wide.

Pheasant Grasses grow most rapidly in the spring, and they are in bloom between mid-summer and fall (from Burning Heavens to Passing Clouds). The hue of the leaves and stems during these seasons may vary depending on the degree of sun exposure the plant receives, but most varieties are a styruine blend of green and gold. Its flower heads, approximately one to three palmspans long, contain korwyn gold spikelets. Each spikelet is about two grains long.

Seeds emerge less than a month after the flowering stage begins. The stalks droop until the heavy one-two od seed heads touch the ground. Pheasant Grass is particularly striking in the winter, because its luster does not fade when it becomes semi-dormant. Instead, the stalks and leaves turn the same korwyn gold colour as the heads.
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Territory. Pheasant Grass grows best in climates where winters are mild. Pheasant Grass needs full or partial sun to thrive, and it grows in climates with moderate to slightly arid humidity. It cannot thrive in damp environments, since excess moisture can damage the roots. It also cannot thrive in densely wooded areas where the canopies of trees block out the sun. Pheasant Grass is found predominantly in open grasslands and in sparsely wooded areas throughout the Southern Sarvonian continent. It grows prolifically in the Aurora Plains, where the golden grass contributes to the colour of the landscape in autumn. Patches of Pheasant Grass also thrive within the Narfost Plain, where it grows in sunny areas upon the steep hills of the canyons. Courtfordians have cultivated the tallest known varieties of Pheasant Grass in the Grasslands of Hylach for hay, while the smallest known varieties are cultivated in quaint private gardens as an ornamental grass.
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Usages. Pheasant Grass contributes to the ecosystem of its habitat both above and beneath the ground. The long roots help to retain valuable nutrients in the soil of the open plains. This hardy plant also provides a source of food for a variety of wild and domestic animals who eat the stalks or seeds.

It is specially cultivated by Centoraurians in the Aurora Plains to feed their horses in the winter, particularly when frost covers the grasslands. While Pheasant Grass retains moisture well when it is planted, the stalks dry quickly into “pheasant hay” once separated from their root system. The seeds are also used to feed domestic birds such as taenishes. Pheasant Grass is attractive enough to be used as an ornamental grass as well, and stalks of Pheasant Grass are often bundled together to form a wreath.
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Reproduction. The plants reproduce by means of its flowers, which are pollinated by wind. Pheasant Grass seeds take approximately 22 days to germinate.

Although the seed heads are are occasionally carried by wind or rain, the dispersal of its heavy seeds is mostly dependent on birds and small seed-eating mammals. These seeds are frequently eaten by varcosparrows, kuatu, fuzzles, and field mice. The seeds, which are slightly barbed at the tip, are distributed when excess seed is caught in their fur or feathers.

In order to maintain an ample supply of hay each year, Centoraurians leave the grasses completely uncut in copses and thickets within Asloriath field. The seeds are easily dispersed by the many native forest animals living in the area.
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Myth/Lore. A Pheasant Grass wreath is used to decorate the house cheerfully during harvest time, when the intermittent showers of rain called “Jeyriall’s Tears” are falling. The wreath is a simple decoration to make, since the stalks are already highly curved due to the drooping of the seed heads. On the first day of the month of Jeystar, it is traditionally hung on a door or exterior wall. The wreath is sometimes called a "Jeyring" (initially by the Centoraurians), and some elves call it an "echár’sú'ufán" (in Styrásh, literally a “grass weave”).

When a cornplat is constructed for Jeyriall in the harvest season, the wreath may serve as a frame or as an anchor to help secure the cornplat against the wind. The wreath is also traditionally adorned with berries or flowers which grow naturally in the local area. The most common decorations are lýth’bél berries, loriv berries, and floridus blossoms.

The tradition is many centuries old, and no one is certain why Pheasant Grass was originally preferred to make the wreath over other types of long stemmed grasses. Some say it is symbolic because Pheasant Grass is particularly susceptible to being damaged by excessive autumn rain. Others say it is for convenience, since the wreath may be unraveled and used as hay after the harvest season is over. But the most popular belief is due to the tendency of a Pheasant Grass wreath to change from styruine to golden as it dries. This colour transformation is seen as symbolic that “Jeyriall’s tears have dried” at the end of the season, and she is no longer weeping for the cut crops.
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 Date of last edit 17th Singing Birds 1673 a.S.

Information provided by Amabella Catston View Profile