Nightgrape is a fungus that grows on cave walls and ceilings, preferring the
dark to the sunlight above ground. It will
keep growing unless pruned if being cultivated for food and sticks to the walls
and ceilings. The "grape" is usually grown by
dwarves as a food and for making wine and vinegar. If a piece becomes
detached it will keep on growing and create a new plant.
The Nightgrape naturally prefers deeper caves that are naturally formed because
of the protection from the elements. Most of these caverns are vast and can be
as big as whole cities. The remoteness of these caverns and caves are not helped
by the fact that they can only be accessed through miniature tunnels. Even
though (not sure how to word that) the Nightgrape has been harvested and
carefully moved to the dwarvish cities
willing to undertake the task of growing and harvesting the fruit. Because of
this the Nightgrape is relatively well known plant that
dwarves have harvested
for many years.
The Nightgrape is a fungus that sticks to cave walls and
ceilings drawing energy from the minerals in the rock. It is a dark,
semi-translucent colour with bulging purple veins, it seems to root itself
wherever it touches the living rock, by sending out tiny tendrils into every
crack and imperfection on the rock face. The plant will keep growing and can
cover a whole section of cave within a short period of time.
The name "Nightgrape" comes from the appearance of the black, grape shaped
globules that are the fruit of the Nightgrape. The fruit of the Nightgrape hang
from little branches that stick out from the main plant. You can tell when the
fruit is ready to be eaten because it will be a very dark black. The fruit of
the Nightgrape can grow to have a diameter of a quarter of a
ped although by that time it
is most likely to have fallen of the branch.
The plant grows by sending branches with a moss-like texture all over the
surface of the rock. The tiny tendrils from these branches are what keep the
plant attached to the wall. This is why the base of the fungus will send out
multiple main branches that in turn separate into other branches forming a huge
network to harvest minerals and anchor the plant to the wall.
Domesticated versions of the Nightgrape have been selectively bred to produce
larger and more grapes on a single plant. The plant can grow as quickly as 2
ped square per week and
requires constant pruning. The Nightgrape cannot be trained on trellises because
the huge root system puts to much weight on it and will overpower it and just
The Nightgrape will grow in any cave it can find, natural or
not, from the mass of underground routes. It is, however, mainly found in the
caves of the eastern province Manthria in
southern Sarvonia in general.
Dwarven records show that its origin appears
to mainly be Manthrian but
dwarves have successfully 'transplanted' it
by moving it in complete darkness to the desired location. Some
dwarves have tried to move it to other cave
systems and have had reasonable success appart from the rare mishaps when the
plant came into contact with sunlight.
The Nightgrape was successfully moved to other caves through underground tunnels
and attached to walls to be bred for food. When moved it has to be moved by
night or by tunnels. This is because the fungus reacts badly with light, the
branches wither and fall to dust while the fruit will gradually expand and
explode, all this happens almost instantly when it comes into contact with
light. Although it can be moved by taking the spores and moving them whilst kept
in the dark, but for some unknown reason it is quite hard to grow domesticated
plants from spore form. The plant, due to the way it feeds is very dependent on
what rock it grows on, this fact makes it harder to move.
The Nightgrape is only farmed by dwarves due
to the plant's choice of location and habitat. The
dwarves are the only race that is persistent
enough to grow it. Most of the plant can be harvested, but the most commonly
used part of the fungus is the fruit that is helps making a special form of wine
as well as an interesting type of vinegar. If cooked slowly the grape and branch
can be mixed into a stew or used separately to make Nightgrape pie.
The globule called the grape can be eaten raw but it will lead to a fever. Some
brave - or crazy - dwarves are in the process
of experimenting with the branches to see if it can be smoked or the dust from
the dead branches has any hallucinogenic powers. When domesticated the plant has
to be pruned regularly.
It has now become common practise that
dwarven healers take branches of Nightgrape outside and mix the dust with
water to create a smelling salt to wakeup
fainted or unconscious dwarves.
The Nightgrape reproduces in a complex system of underground tunnels and sporing
inside the caves. Sometimes part of the plant will get separated from the main
plant, when this happens the part that is separated will form a new plant and
continue growing in the same way. The spores of the plant will stick to a
creature that brushes the grape and drop of at a later point. The spores are
released at a point above the grape where it meets the branch. The most common
creature that the spores attach to are flittermice.
With domesticated plants they are given a helping hand by the
dwarves grape farmers that
employ children to brush up against the plant and then brush up against another
part of the wall.
Several Thergerim sayings have developed
thanks to the Nightgrape such as “It's sticking like Nightgrape” and “Gossip
grows like the Nightgrape but is far less useful”. It is also believed that the
first Nightgrape was grown and discovered by accident when a famous
dwarven explorer rubbed against the plant and
then a piece of rock in a Mitharim
cave after leaving on it for support after some disappointing news. Unless mixed
or cooked properly the grape can lead to a fever, this is a well-known fact and
is a commonly used practical joke, with young
dwarves tricking each other into eating raw grapes and sometimes getting a
day or two of school. Young dwarves are
sometimes employed to collect spores and then brush them off on to the rocks are
usually called grapers because of the plant. In a common retake of the emblem of
dwarves the Nightgrape grape is used in the
centre, this is because of the amount of room the
dwarves leave and give the plant.
16th Fallen Leaf 1667
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