THE STRANGLING VINE ("PALM VINE")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

Strangling Vines, also known as Palm Vines in areas where bombox palm trees are to be found, are perhaps one of the more noticeable vines of the Nybelmarian jungles, are well known throughout the forested areas of the continent. Valued for edibility, decorativeness, and its use as a resource for rope-makers, Strangling Vines are, have been for a long time, and will continue to be, an important part of the flora of Caelereth.

Appearance. The Strangling Vine is one of the more common vines of the tropical jungles of Nybelmar, and most denizens of those jungles are familiar with the smooth, green vines that entangle the trees. Coloured a clear styruine they are a good-looking accent to their surroundings, inspiring some to use them as a decorative vine for large buildings.

Strangling Vines have few leaves or other 'appendages'. They typically consist out of a smooth, central vine, which sprouts small branches about every other fore. These branches, which never grow over two span long, are used for both grip as they tend to twist and curl around anything they might touch, and to bear the vines leaves, flowers, and air-roots. Indeed, all the parts this vine needs for survival are situated on these small branches.

Were one to observe such a branch, the organized structure strikes the eye immediately. First, a set of three to five air-roots protrude from the branch, only a few nailsbreadths from its base. These will over time grow, dangling down from the host tree, and reach up to five peds of length. Would one of these roots actually reach the ground, it will burrow and act as a common root to draw in nutrients from that point, instead of in aiding the plant's breathing.

About ten nailsbreadths from the air-roots, a small cluster of four to ten long-stemmed leaves are found. Each leaf consists of a small disk about one nailsbreadth in diameter on top of the stem, not unlike an umbrella, with seven long, thin sub-leaves evenly spaced around the rim of the disk. These sub-leaves are about five nailsbreadths long, yet only half a nailsbreadth wide, resulting in a narrow elliptic shape. A common comparison to the strange shape of the leaf is that of a miniature bombox palm, leading to the alternative name of Palm Vine in some of the southern Nybelmarian settlements.

As the branch continues towards its end, one more cluster of growths can be found. This third cluster is the flowering part of the vine. Appearing as nothing more than a circle of small, drop-shaped buds at first, these develop into long, conical flowers, of about 4-5 nailsbreadths long, and one and a half nailsbreadths wide. Appreciated as decorations on various dishes, the flowers can differ greatly in colour, from a beautiful sou'cald blue, through Santhran violet and karikrimson to the perhaps more gentle woods rose. Different colours are often found on the same plant, although flowers originating from one cluster always share the same colour.

It must be noted that the name "Strangling Vine" was not given without due reason in this case. As the vine grows older (reaching up to and over 100 years), its hold on the tree it has taken as a host grows to be suffocating, with the smaller branches changing into main vines after three to five years.

Eventually, the host tree may die, blocked from the sun, and unable to penetrate the thick growth of vines all along its trunk and branches. As the host then rots and crumbles, it takes its killer down with it, which is reduced to a giant mass of tangled vines. Often, these continue to grow all over themselves, and will eventually start to climb more trees in the immediate vicinity.
Return to the top

Territory. The Strangling Vine is commonly found throughout the Nybelmarian jungles. While it is most abundant in the Fallaerion Gaeldorioth, the elven woods located in the east of Nybelmar, it is available in any of the humid jungles of the continent, and is usually considered to be, together with the sweetsip vine one of the most abundant vines of this continent.
Return to the top

Usages. Apart from its decorative flowers, this vine has two important other uses. First, and most important of all, the vines, when dried, stretched, and cured in a mixture of some common herbs and skaurgere fat, can be twisted tightly, and dried in this shape to form strong but rather rough ropes, which can be used for all sorts of non-permanent construction, as well as to replace important ropes of a more durable kind quickly until a more permanent replacement can be made.

Secondly, the seeds, which resemble small, black beans, may be eaten, and are a highly valued snack for Nybelmarian children, who often collect the seeds from under the vine, and have one of their parents roast them in a clay pot. More delectable versions include adding honey, or a thin coat of crispy dough to the seeds, the latter especially popular among the human tribes of the east.

The Krean of the south have developed a more delicate, rose-flavoured version, wich is commonly enjoyed together with a nice glass of flowerwater, or a light wine.
Return to the top

Reproduction. After flowering, which usually takes place in the months of the Burning Heavens and Sleeping Dreameress, the flower wilts, and is replaced by a long, thin pod, about 8-10 nailsbreadths long. As the seed ripens within, the pod turns from the styruine green it first shares with the rest of the vine, to a paler, barsa dusk colour. Once the pod has completely dried out only a slight touch, or a soft breeze will cause it to burst open, and separate into three strips which curl away outward, sending the small black seeds in all directions.
Return to the top

Myth/Lore. Only recently confirmed is the rumour that the tribe of the Phed'Lon, the northern Drifting Woods, has found a way to enhance the durability of the ropes made from these vines. Research done on this matter has linked this with local stories about the woods swallowing anyone who enters them uninvited, most noticeably the disappearance of an entire farm that was built within the forests perimeter. These strange occurrences may be explained by means of a long-kept secret of the forest's tribe. With the aid of the Nybelmar merfolk living underneath large portions of their realm, they gather a grayish fungus that grows in the air pockets that can be found in cavities underneath the trees. While only the mer can harvest this fungus, the humans are eager to trade various surface goods for it, as it is the key to their secret.

If the fungus is added to the soil surrounding the roots of a Strangling Vine, it causes a strange chain-reaction to occur. Within mere moments, the vine will start to grow visibly, its rate of growth accelerating in a spectacular way. Only a few handfuls of the fungus will force a vine seedling to live its century-long life span in a matter of minutes. This has a few important side effects. Of course, anything that comes into contact with the growing vine will be in grave danger, as it will become entangled, and crushed to death as the weight of the pant increases. Another noticeable effect is that the soil the Strangling Vine is rooted in will become drained of any nutrients it possessed, often causing death for most smaller plants and herbs in the immediate vicinity, and slowing the growth of the trees. This is also the downfall of the vine, as it will eventually starve itself to death.

The humans of this mysterious tribe have found various ways to make use of this strange effect. Not only did they discover that this rapid-grown vine can be used as a stronger, more durable version of the common vine-ropes, even without making use of the curing mixture, but the vines have proven to be so resistant to the wear and tear of the humid jungle environment, that they now make up for most of the intricate system of rope bridges that cross a large portion of the woods. Another usage is, of course, the repelling of unwanted visitors. This is accomplished by adding a small amount of fungus to a vine seedling growing in a container. Throwing this container at the offending person will result in the complete entanglement of the intruder, while death is prevented by the small amount of nutrients available in the container, making the vine die before reaching a dangerous size.

It is likely that this practice has lead to the myths of people and buildings disappearing. After all, a farmhouse covered by an enormous mass of vines might very well appear to have vanished from the face of Caelereth.

An interesting variation on this last myth is found in the local fable "The Folly of Farmer Farron". This is written as a sing-song piece of poetry that tells the story of a foolish farmer, who, against the wise advice of everyone in his village, packed his belongings, and led his family and animals into the Drifting Woods. There, he cleared the forest to accommodate his new house and fields, but as the night fell, the Woods came alive and swallowed the poor man's whole farm, leaving not a single trace of the foolish farmer. The piece then warns the listener against entering the woods uninvited, leading this researcher to believe it was originally created to ensure the local children did not venture into the dangerous woods, where wild animals, hostile inhabitants, and the ever present risk of drowning were to be found everywhere.

This is but a single example of the large amount of folklore concerning man-eating trees, mysterious disappearances, and malevolent nature spirits that can be led back to this vine’s more spectacular properties. It seems that the Tereivikh have, over the years, encouraged these myths and rumors to protect their cherished solitude. One can only say that their tactics have proven to be very effective, as even in these modern times the only people entering the woods are those who travel to the public trading post of the Tereivikh, located less than a stral from the edge, on the end of the only road leading into the woods.
Return to the top

 Date of last edit 6th Sleeping Dreameress 1666 a.S.

Information provided by Miraran Tehuriden View Profile