THE TOL KURR MOSS ("DWARVEN WHEAT")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - RESEARCHERS

Tol Kurr (also commonly called "Dwarven Wheat") is an edible variety of moss and is widely used by the Thergerim to make Borwul, the dwarven "bread". It only grows underground and needs just a small amount of light and lots of moisture to survive. The moss is large, thick, and dark green in colour.

Appearance. Tol Kurr is a big, coarse moss; its average height is 6 to 8 nailsbreadths. The interwoven, matted ‘beds’ of moss can run from a seatprint up to 15 pens in size. About a league north of Kor Mithrid in the Mithral Mountains lies the largest known moss bed; it has been measured at a little less than a perry.

The Tol Kurr Moss
Image description. The edible Tol Kurr, also referred to as "Dwarven Wheat". Picture by Bard Judith.

The moss’ true colour is a dark green that lightens near the root base, but appears almost black in the dark caves where it thrives. The scent that is given off by the moss is most delightful. Most describe it as similar to the fresh air of spring or faintly trifoil-scented. The large, round fibers are normally 2 to 3 grains across, yet are quite flexible. By growing over and across each other, the fibers make a sturdy and resilient mat, which cannot be easily destroyed or trampled.

The root system of the moss is extensive and specialized. The normal roots are thin but often reach many peds in length. The Trumgrupyim Tog ("Stone-Eater Root"), as the dwarves call it, is a highly specialized root that bores through solid rock. The interior of the root is filled with the Trumgrupyim ("Stone-Eater") substance, which is harvested by the Tenthrum dwarf clan for various applications (see Usages, below).

Excreting the substance through the tip, the root grows out away from the existing cave until it reaches sheltered air again – usually another cave or cavern, but sometimes a heavily shadowed valley. The surfaced root then grows a new bed of moss. Any Tol Kurr outgrowth is thus always connected with the roots of other moss beds, allowing them to exchange nutrients and be constantly ‘aware’ of optimal growing conditions. With this information, researchers have come to believe that almost all the Tol Kurr within a mountain range is interconnected.
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Territory. Tol Kurr is only found on the continent of Sarvonia. Tol Kurr grows almost exclusively underground in caverns and mines, and it cannot tolerate the brightness of sunlight aboveground. Researchers speculate that the species originated in the Mithril Mountains. It is also believed that the moss made its way to other ranges by means of trade; traditional Mitharim tales mention
dwarven bachelors and maidens traveling to other clans in wedding exchanges and bringing Tol Kurr mattresses and rugs along, so either spores or still-living fibers could easily have colonized other caverns. In the upper caves and mines you find this moss in abundance. Deeper in the caverns the moss is not present because it does require some ambient light to grow. Tol Kurr also needs lots of moisture; therefore it does not survive in areas that are dry and parched. Return to the top

Usages. The Thergerim use Tol Kurr to make their basic ‘bread’. Though it grows naturally in many places, when cultivated the moss is grown on specially constructed arches above dwarven farm fields. After about two months, once the moss is full-grown, farmers cut the moss at the base, leaving the top to grow back from the roots. Placed on large circular tables, the moss is dried using sunlight funneled down a shaft, like the ones used for timeclocks.

Once dried the moss is ground up into a fine powder, called Krrkheen, literally "Moss-Flour". Dark brown in color, it has the feel of fine foridite, powdery but slightly grainy. Stale beer (added to raise the bread and give it a little flavour), water and the Krrkheen are mixed together, producing a thick, dark dough. Other substances are usually added after the first raising for variety and taste, such as crushed weeproot, goat cheese, chopped doch nuts, dried fruits, and so on. Then the dough is baked either in the great common oven which backs the main cavern hearth, or in one of the small ovens built into the side of the mine furnaces. Borwul has a tough consistency, high fiber content, and has long durability, making it very similar to the elven journeycake or the human scone.

The Moss Flour is also traditionally used for many other dwarven recipes, including cakes, cookies, and pastries, though recently trade in golden rain and other above-ground grain flours has become popular, as they result in a much lighter product.

Due to the fresh fragrance that the moss emits, it is often planted to help freshen the air of the individual home-caves. Dwarven housewives also use the sturdy, aromatic moss as doormats and rugs. Travelers have found that moss beds are a suitable substitute for mattresses or pallets as they are tough and resilient.

The Tenthrum tribe use a preparation of Trumgrupyim in concentrated but controlled quantities in specific mining applications - and also in siege warfare. The few military humans who know about it and how it is used simply call it "Trummi" and regard it with a sort of jealous awe. However, for the most part the fact that such a powerful substance even exists is guarded as a strict secret, let alone the details of its manufacture.
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Reproduction. Tol Kurr reproduces asexually, meaning that when a living part of the moss is separated from the main body it roots and grows in its new location, though it mostly reproduces by growing new moss beds from surfaced roots. Thergerim moss farmers thus do not have to replant each year; they simply harvest the top of the plant and let it grow back from the roots. It can also ‘spore’, releasing fine dust when the conditions are too dry for good root growth, but this is unusual and almost never necessary in cultivated plants.
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Researchers. The Thergerim have carried out the majority of research, as it is a primary food source for them, although many hobbits have been intrigued by the moss and grow small pots as ‘air fresheners’ in shady corners of their burrow. One famous dwarven researcher was Hansdem Henlogrom, an alchemist and herbalist of the Mitharim clan. He is credited with having identified and isolated the Stone-Eater substance, which he discovered in his extensive research of the root systems. He also came up with the concept of all the moss being interconnected within a mountain range.

Dwarven farmers have found one major weakness of the moss. If it is very dry for a while all of the moss in the region is equally harmed. All the plants share the water and nutrients absorbed by one plant so almost none of the moss will survive a very severe drought. There have been some recorded cases of this, but none have been as bad as the 1030 b.S. Mitharim Tol Kurr Famine, where over a thousand dwarves died.  Return to the top

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