Winter Jasmine

Written by samsaratg

The Plant

Winter Jasmine gains its name from of the vast quantities of white flowers it produces in late spring. Every branch has multiple blooms, that make any area covered by the plant look like it is snow covered. True to its name, the plant is also hardy over the winter. It is a deciduous perennial and its branches retain their green throughout the winter, standing out in the snow.

 

If it is trimmed, it could be formed into a shrub or other shapes but typically its woody branches spread across whatever surface they run into. It puts down roots from the branches every few feet and becomes hard to kill as it can spread nutrients and water for a long distance through its branches. It will wrap around trees and strangle them in just one or two seasons. It covers the ground so thick that new plants are smothered. It is considered an invasive species.

 

However, Winter Jasmine has an extremely long germination period and its seed coat won't break down unless it is dissolved first. Patches of Winter Jasmine are rare in the wild because of this. Typically, patches are found growing in areas with extremely toxic or acidic soil where faster germinating plants are at a disadvantage.

 

Once a patch gets established its shoots expand rapidly. The multitude of flowers are a boon to small insects, particularly moths. The seeds are covered in spines and stick to the moths that visit the patches at night for the sweet nectar of the flowers. The moths are spreading the previous year's seeds during this process. Many of the moth species, that Winter Jasmine attracts, make long migrations so the seeds are dispersed throughout the continent. If an area is impacted by an acid or toxin the seed will begin the cycle over in its new area.

 

Uses

Winter Jasmine is used by many like a 'canary in a coal mine' to alert them of a problem with the soil or water in a region. It is mostly considered a pest. Farmers and Foresters will work to quickly clear any patches with fire. The seeds can survive fire so after burning the branches, flowers, and leaves, someone clearing a patch will don gloves and collect the seeds by hand or rake. The plant can become the bane of someone working the land as even a single missed seed could become a patch a few years down the road. The longest time, on record, that a seed remained viable was 16 years.

 

When seeds are collected they can be sold for use in creating poisons - it makes a particularly good rodent poison. There are very few people willing to farm Winter Jasmine on an ongoing basis but the hefty price the seeds can fetch can make clearing a patch more palatable.

 

Warning

The acid and toxins the plant encounters are absorbed with other nutrients from the ground. The acid and toxins are not processed by the plant but stored in specialized pods along the branches. It is thought this developed as a protection from predators. The longer the plant has been growing, the more toxic it gets. In large patches, the plant can eliminate wildlife for several square miles. As an animal brushes against the branches the toxins are ejected. If the animal has run deep into a patch it will take a lethal dose of toxins and become fertilizer to fuel the plant's future growth. Animals or people wandering alone into a patch have likely met their end. If someone can pull a victim to safety and rinse any wounds, that can allow for enough time to get to a healer. Immediate attention is required.

 

Culture

The plant has been the cause of death of many children and is universally reviled. Children are taught to stay away from the plant with 5 white petals in a star shape. Stories are told that if a child doesn't do their outside chores properly, the plant will come for them.

 

The flowers are pretty but most communities ban using them, because if even one seed gets carried along, it could result in a patch that they will be fighting against for years.

Winter Jasmine in full bloom.

A Recent Encounter

Yvette and Jacques were running through the forest with Cain. They were scouting out rumors of trouble in a nearby town. Cain was excited to be out, after being confined for several weeks. A dog is meant to run. He burst ahead of the twins, then teleported back to them. Even being magical couldn't beat a good run in the forest.

 

Cain spotted a sunny clearing in the forest up ahead. Excitedly, he teleported ahead. Ah, the sun was warm. He trotted forward but something was wrong, something splashed him. He was losing the feeling in his legs. He fell to the ground unconscious. Yvette and Jacques reached the edge of the clearing just as he fell to the ground. Jacques knelt down and looked at the flowers "It's Winter Jasmine, Yvette."

 

Yvette turned around and grabbed handfuls of branches and leaves. She handed some to Jacques. He shredded them as she used her flint and steel to start a fire. He pulled out a torch to help things along. He lit it in the fire. He moved through the patch burning a path ahead of himself. When he reached Cain he tossed the torch into the patch. It burned some of the patch but did not generate a large fire. Jacques hoisted Cain onto his shoulders. He pulled his hood tight to keep any oils and toxins off his skin.

 

"I saw a stream about 5 minutes back. Let's get him washed up." Yvette said as she welcomed Jacques back into the forest, "Do you think we have time to clear this patch?"

 

Jacques shook his head no. "We better get back to town after we wash him off. We can find the patch again."



Comments

Author's Notes

The inspiration for this plant species came from knowledge of American Bittersweet and Star Jasmine along with watching videos how plants and some animals process poison to use it for themselves, thanks SciShow https://youtu.be/CQAVcAJQsEM


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Journeyman Monkos
Andrew Booth
13 Mar, 2021 07:45

A really interesting defence system that you've worked out here - I love the fact that the plant doesn't produce its own toxins but rather repurposes the ones it might absorb. Definitely not a plant I'd like to run into!

Creator of the world of Mythia, where writing is magic!
Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
13 Mar, 2021 18:59

Thanks! I agree, this is one to avoid. I'm excited to try it out in my D&D game, a terrain hazard that could become a challenge or maybe the party will use it to their advantage.

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Now there are books being written about her. Walk with Lavani, see the lore and book come together by supporting me on Patreon.
21 Mar, 2021 09:56

Damn, this plant sounds absolutely terrible. I love how you managed to create something so frightening, yet that remains within the realm of plausibility. The system you worked out for the plant is very interesting too! I loved reading about the uses and the general perception of the plant within your world :)

Author of Interarcanum.
Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
22 Mar, 2021 05:46

Thanks! I really liked the concept of this challenge, there was so much to uncover just looking at one plant.

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Now there are books being written about her. Walk with Lavani, see the lore and book come together by supporting me on Patreon.
22 Mar, 2021 15:23

Really interesting take on how a plant defends itself against itself. Would not want to touch that plant by accident, sound like an awful way to go. It's nice that the toxins are that it absorbs are used as the defence. Those poor farmers though that even can't fully get rid of it with burning the plant if they miss a seed. Was a great read!

Feel free to check out My Ship entry if you want to see what I am up to!
Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
24 Mar, 2021 07:24

Thanks for checking it out!

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Now there are books being written about her. Walk with Lavani, see the lore and book come together by supporting me on Patreon.
7 Apr, 2021 17:14

Hi George! I like the photos you've chosen for your cover and sidebar, and your use of drop caps. The "canary in a coal mine" tied with the sidebar tale is an excellent pairing.

xtremepsy | Ölütanrı
Checkout my other favourite entries to the 2021 Peculiar Plant HERE!
Feel free to read, favourite, and comment on my entry, Digivine.
Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
9 Apr, 2021 13:18

Thanks! I liked exploring the idea of a regular, pretty looking plant being a bit ominous

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Now there are books being written about her. Walk with Lavani, see the lore and book come together by supporting me on Patreon.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
11 Apr, 2021 18:11

Great article, this looks like a really annoying plant :D   " Winter Jasmine is used by many like a 'canary in a coal mine' to alert them of a problem with the soil or water in a region." You don't really explain how it does that here. Is it because it's presence is a sign of something? Or its absence?   " If the animal has run deep into a patch it will take a lethal dose of toxins and become fertilizer to fuel the plant's future growth." Nice XD Though I would at least mentioned that the plant is toxic earlier. You've talked about all the problems it causes by invading everywhere and smothering other plants, but I'd imagine the toxicity is a big(ger) problem if the plant is taking over a garden or a field. It's also making it a lot harder to get rid of it.   And nice narration to show off the effect of the plant :D

Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
13 Apr, 2021 04:46

Thanks for checking out my article! I think, yes - the presence of the plant is the sign that something is wrong in the soil. Good thoughts about the level of danger of the plant too. I was hiding that a bit until the Warning section. I'll do some editing after the challenge. I'm using it in a game and in future short stories so want to keep refining it.

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Now there are books being written about her. Walk with Lavani, see the lore and book come together by supporting me on Patreon.
Sage Timepool
Garrett Lewis
13 Apr, 2021 21:58

I like how subtle and believable this one is!

Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
16 Apr, 2021 13:28

Thanks! That is the space I am enjoying writing in - just a little bit off of real world as the article starts and then the view into the world gets bigger as you go.

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Now there are books being written about her. Walk with Lavani, see the lore and book come together by supporting me on Patreon.
17 Apr, 2021 12:21

Definitely a plant you want to keep under control. I wonder if a big hole/valley would work to grow it without it being able to really spread? And I'd hate to accidentally run into it. Having to work so hard to get rid of it, reminds me of invasive species that take years to properly clear out.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
19 Apr, 2021 18:13

Yeah. I have a vine that keeps coming up in the bed where I grow tomatoes...it is the bane of my garden. :) Going to move things around this year. That was part of my background thinking to the article. Interesting idea trying to create a secure growing area.

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Now there are books being written about her. Walk with Lavani, see the lore and book come together by supporting me on Patreon.
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