THE SKYWEED

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Skyweed plant, a bush-like weed with no real site constraints, is often a nuisance to gardeners working at high altitudes. Although this gray-blue plant is very feathery and fragile, it grows extremely quickly. However, Skyweed also has many uses: One can produce ropes from the weed's light vines or use the vanilla-like berries for syrup.

Appearance. This bush-like weed has no real size constraints, but if a plant is large enough, a strong gust of wind will pick it up off of the ground where it is resting and send it flying over the land. Thus, it rarely gets above two peds tall before being shorn by natural means. It has a blue-gray coloring to it, and its flowers, which are about Ĺ of a nailsbreadth across, are colored a rich magenta. The Skyweed flowers turn into bright red berries at harvest-time; these are about the same size as the flowers. Each berry has a small flap of tissue that is connected on two opposite points of the berry, and forms a sort of parachute. The berries can then be carried on the wind. Inside the berry is a small seed that is about a grain across. This weed has a wispy appearance, and generally grows so that in any given direction it is the same as any other. A 2 ped high plant will only weigh about a hafeb. Return to the top

Territory. This amazing plant only grows at high altitudes, because its leaves need space in between them and mountains generally get much more wind than plains. Also, too much oxygen in the air will stifle the plant, and it will not be able to grow enough. It likes relatively exposed areas that get a lot of winds and sun, and though preferring rich soil, can grow even in rock if it needs too.
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Usages.
The Skyweed plant is often a nuisance to gardeners working at high altitudes. Although this gray-blue plant is very feathery and fragile, it grows extremely quickly. Some observers have reported as much as a fore in a day, though this is quite rare. What really makes this plant a nuisance are two basic things; for one, the plant never stops growing until it is cut back or dies of old age, and when you do cut it back, even a small piece of a root will grow back overnight, and the plant will be gigantic within a week. Fortunately, there is a process of removing it effectively, though it takes a few years and a couple of burnings; a farmer must throw the seeds of the lorahough after being lit into the patch. The fumes from the seeds are apparently anathema to the Skyweed, and will kill patches without even having to burn them, though the fire usually lights the whole plant. Sometimes, though, this doesnít work on the first attempt and leaves the plant only weakened after it grows back, so a few different tries are needed. Unfortunately, after one volley of the seeds the skyweed will not grow back immediately, and the next attempt may be a couple of months before it would be effective. Eventually, the plant will die and not be strong enough to grow back. However, many gardeners will even go so far as to desert an area if it is infested with skyweed because of the difficulty they have in removing it. Skyweed, however much of a problem it can be, is also very beautiful. Whenever it is moved by even the subtlest of breezes, flows and sways wonderfully; this is where the plant received its name. Finally, in the height of summer, the plant is covered for about a week with tiny magenta flowers that are open all night and day for this period of time. They have a very faint, sweet-smelling fragrance, and are luminescent at night. The plant is also a staple for many high-altitude herbivores.

Even though it is named a "weed", Skyweed is a very useful plant. Its leaves can be arranged as decoration nearly anywhere within a house, and have the best appearance when exposed to a slight wind. In this case, the leaves will catch the breeze and wisp with an appearance the very same as if it were out on a windswept mountain valley. After being exposed to sunlight, or being freshly picked, a flower-laden branch of skyweed may serve as a childís nightlight. If exposed to direct sunlight for a few hours, the flowers will glow quite brightly, but after an overcast day it will only give off the faint light as if the bush was the night sky. Sometimes, during summer months, there is sun for the whole day and for perhaps a couple weeks at a time. Each night, the berries darken a little, but do not lose all of the light that they gained during the day time. So every day they will get brighter. After about a week of this, the berries will be bright enough to be seen during the day, or to light a whole room during the night. People building houses that are located next to fields of the bush are careful not to locate bedrooms next to them, or it will give the impression of sleeping during the day.

There are several ways to make rope from the Skyweed plant. The first uses the light vines located near the edges of the plant. The leaves are stripped away, and a suitable length is chosen (being careful not to take parts that split into two vines or have uneven diameters). Then, the material is soaked in water for a couple of days, and dried out. By the end of this process, a person would have a nice piece of light rope, generally used for ties on clothing and other uses that would require a soft rope. Often, after this process is done with a couple lengths, they will be braided together to make a stronger rope. Unfortunately, this does not usually yield very long ropes. The second process uses the roots of the plant, which are usually quite long and thick, and not branching off very frequently. The root is stripped of the small shoots that gather water and other minerals for the plant, along with the outer skin that is as thick as thin paper. Then, it is soaked in water, usually in a coiled form to help prevent sharp bends in the rope that are hard to smooth out of the rope. After a week, because of the larger diameter of the root, the rope is ready to be taken out of the water. This rope has many more uses than the other, and is commonly put to use for tying boats to the docks on a river, large lashings, harnesses for work animals, and other things requiring a strong rope. Sometimes these ropes are woven together, but this is a much harder process than with the other type because of the size. These fibrous roots are usually between a nailsbreath and a palmspan, and are strong even for their size.

The berries growing on the plant can be used to make preserves, syrup, to add a bit of flavor to baked goods, or even to make a wine. Because their flavor is close to vanilla except slightly more tart, sugar is often added. Some people do prefer the sharp taste of unsweetened Skyweed berries, but most like the flavor more when it isnít as sour. Usually, the berries are pulped by hand, made simple by the berriesí thin skin, and then the remaining liquid is strained, thus removing the seeds for other uses. They also may be de-seeded by cutting the seed in half; the seed is hardly connected after being fully developed and will fall right out. However, this second method is not used much because it takes quite a bit longer. In many cases, the berry will be ground up, seeds and all, and used in that form. Drying the berry will cause the seed to be exposed, but the flesh of the berry will be almost completely useless except as fertilizer, but it is an easy way to get the seeds out. These seeds can be ground up into a powder to use to sweeten the air of a room or to add to food. The spice made from the berries is called Clouddust, because many liken the flavor to how clouds would taste if they could reach them.

The berries themselves can be used to entertain children by throwing a handful up into a strong wind and watching as the magenta cloud is swept out of sight. They are also often thrown at ceremonies such as weddings, elections, or births, generally seen as purifying even as a wind can purify an old room that has sat for a while and gathered a bad odor. The berries, leaves, flowers, and seeds are often used as reagents for wind spells, and the rope is easily enchanted by certain spells that are inclined towards the plantís nature (mostly wind spells).
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Reproduction. Skyweed plants generally grow along with at least a few other plants, and when the wind blows, the plants brush along each other, pollinating the flowers when this happens during the summer. Butterflies are attracted greatly to this plant, and it isn't uncommon to see hundreds of white spiral butterflies on one plant alone. Bees and other nectar-loving insects and birds also aid in pollination.

Skyweed berries have parachute-like flaps of tissue that will lift the berry off of the bush when a strong enough breeze comes by. The stem of the berry is strong enough to withstand just enough wind that the berry cannot be pulled off by a gust that isnít strong enough to keep it airborne. This stem isnít strong enough to withstand the shaking of the plant, and all harvesters have to do is shake the plant enough that the berries fall off into their waiting baskets.
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Myth/Lore. The plant, according to legend, was thought to originally have been made by Eyasha, the only Wind Goddess, who was pleased by the people who lived in the area near her. But the people soon forsook her, and she added to its qualities enough that it wasnít as much of the blessing that it had originally been, but that it could be an incredible nuisance as well. But she also wasnít cruel enough to destroy it altogether, or to make it only a pest and have no good qualities. That is why, to this day, it is known as a weed though it is very helpful to the people that live in areas that it populates. Return to the top

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