THE SUNSMILE ("SUNSPARK", "INJRA'R")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Sunsmile or Sunspark is hardy to all zones, it will grow on any type of ground, covering it with bright yellow sunny flowers that turn into fluffy puff balls when seeding. A field of seeding Sunsmiles can be quite a sight on a windy day... it looks like it were snowing, so many fluffy seeds floating in the air.

The Sunsmiles
Image description. A meadow with the very common Sunsmile Flowers. Pic by Eshh K'ryvvlen.

Appearance. The Sunsmiles emerge above a long, sturdy tap root to form rosettes of narrow, deeply lobed leaves and grow closely to he ground. These leaves are from four nailsbreath to one palmspans two nailsbreadth long and up to two nailsbreaths wide. Unlike the lotann flower which have jagged lobes on the leaves, the Sunsmile has rounded lobes that point back towards the stem. When the plant is adult the leaves are flimsy and easily broken yet when the rosettes are small the teeth are generally smaller and not so deeply lobed.

The flowers of the Sunsmile are a light yellow, up to four nailsbreadths in diameter and there is apparently only one flower per steam. The flowers have their own characteristic form, they consist of many small ray flowers, surrounded by two rows of floral bracts, which are bent backwards, looking like a small sun, hence the name of the plant. The lotann flower is quite similar to the Sunsmile in form and color but instead of having many small flowers form one big one the lotann has petals.

The stems of the flowers are hollow and can grow up to two palmspans long and are incredibly resistant despite their hollowness, holding the flower above the rest of the plant and also allowing them to grow trough thick underbrush.

Inside the steams of both flower and leaves flows a white, almost milkish sap that will ooze out whenever the stems are broken, if this sap touches bare skin it will turn a deep brownish colour and stay like a membrane until washed away.

The Sunsmile has the characteristic that the flowers remain open during all day, as long as here is enough light, and close during the night to protect the delicate petals from the cold.
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Territory. The Sunsmile is originally a plant of Northern Sarvonia, being found everywhere from the grassy plains of the land of the Kuglimz to the feet of the Gathorn Mountains. Even when it is resistant enough to survive with a minimum of water and sunlight, when it has plenty of humidity and sun it will grow more than it normally does, creating patches of yellow flowers that can cover several peds.

The Sunsmile has become quite a familiar sight in such southern places as the Heath of Jernais and the Aurora Fields. It is suspcted that travelling caravans are responsible for spreading the seeds as they pass trough the different provinces.

However its very rare to see the Sunsmile any further south than New-Santhala, there seem to be something in the earth that doesn't allow the plant to grow well.  
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Usages. The leaves of the Sunsmile are great in salads when the plant is young. They can also be included in soups and stews. The leaves have a zesty flavor and the roots can be dried and used in warm beverages, or you can steep the flowers, leaves and even the roots for a tea. The milk coming from the stem of the flower has good effects on the skin, softening it and soothing the itching produced by rashes.

A warm bath with added Sunsmiles has shown to soothe aching muscles and joints.

Many wild animals feed on the Sunsmile, such as the tarandus deer and landesh pony. This plant can be dried and used as winter forage for house animals. It seems to be more fattening than regular dry grass and animals feed on it gladly.
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Reproduction. The flower of the Sumsmile has a sweet nectar that attracts all kind of small insects to it, like the red diamond butterflies and the ever busy malise. After the Sunsmiles are pollinated seeds form in the closed head. Each seed looks like a small feather. The whole top looks like a puff ball. The seeds have tiny burs to hold them in the ground, so they can grow just about anywhere. The seeds are carried away from the mother plant by wind and water. The Sunsmile can also reproduce from pieces of broken off roots from the main plant, this making it a rather unwelcome plant in any orchard or garden, it is practically impossible to get rid off!

Flowering season is from early Awakening Earth (Avnni'moda) to late Fallen Leaf (Chh'quern).
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Myth/Lore. Small girls are specially fond of the fluffy seed heads of the flower, they blow the seeds away and the quantity of seeds that remain on the stem is the quantity of years they will stay married or the number of children they will have.
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Information provided by Lucirina Telor Vevan View Profile