Needlebloom, as is the translation from the drahiin language, is a small subterranean plant that nonetheless occupies a large section of drahiin daily life. One of the few planets that grow in the underground habitat of Diosett it makes sense that its uses are many and varied by the land's premier (and only sentient) subterranean species in their attempts to eke out every bit of usability from the resources at hand. Uses Include (but not limited to)::
- Needles - As the name implies, the needlebloom is a blooming plant that consists of hard nettles that are tough and, more importantly in this case, sharp. In this case 'needles' can cover tattoo inking needles, sewing needles, hunting darts and at one time even medicinal injection needles .
- Tea - the nettles can be harvested and steeped for a tangy and slightly sweet tea.
- Stock/Broth - see above, but with the addition of other foodstuffs. The roots are better served here than in a tea due to the slightly bitter and peppery flavor they impart.
- Clothing - technically clothing, as it covers and then protects the part of the body it's covering but it's not exactly the most comfortable of material and so it relegated to shoes/slippers. In the spirit of getting every bit of use out of the material they can, needlebloom nettles are usually put there other uses first and then cleaned before using it to make things like shoes, or lightly protective gear (used mostly for full-contact games).
- Paper - the thick roots are utilized in various applications once processed. One such application would be soaking the roots to soften them, separating the fibers, pulping them and pressing them into paper.
Looking like a tall, stiff, clump of grass, the needlebloom grows in groups of several 'tufts' clumped together. Each 'tuft' consists of a dozen nettles, each almost a foot long, attached to a spongey moss-like base that hides and protects the roots; thick, fibrous things that dig into the hard soil and softer rock to keep the plant in place. There is also a single bloom at the center of the nettles, a green-blue puffball that disperses itself to propogate the species.
Genetics and Reproduction
The needlebloom has a monthly cycle of growth and propagation in which the 'bloom' scatters itself, each of the tiny little stems containing enough material for it to start growing a new tuft. Each 'tuftlet' will land and work its way into the soil or rock in a search for resources - water, nutrients, so on - and, being a hearty plant will find resources. It may have to stock up and miss a monthly bloom, but it will persevere, especially since it can reproduce without pollination with one plant having been observed to sire two dozen other needleblooms (its bloom produced more, it just that of those potential dozens of tuftlets, two dozen were able to take hold).
Growth Rate & Stages
The needlebloom has a monthly blooming cycle. It is a fast-growing, hearty plant that is a survivor. Its lifecycle begins when its seed, known as a tuftlet, is scattered by its parent plant. Riding the subterranean drafts, or being caught on an animal's fur or skin to later drop off, or even to be eaten by an animal and later dropped off, the seed will take hold. Its roots will seek out nutrients in the soil it lands on, with the strong fibrous tendrils known to dig into the softer rock and stone of the underground environment of diosett. The moss-like cover serves as a protective 'skirt' for the roots, as well as a moisture trap. The nettles, too, are used to bring in nutrients from anything that may come into contact with their stiff, sharp, nature (one reason why, when dried, they're used as needles) Thankfully it will not scatter its tuftlets until near the end of its lifecycle, lest the needlbloom take over.
Ecology and Habitats
Optimally a loose, sandy soil is preferred as it likes to dig, though it's not terribly picky as, has been noted before in the article, it can and has dug into softer rock and stone to seek what it needs. Being a subterranean plant it needs no light, getting its nutrients else where.
Dietary Needs and Habits
It can survive on very little in the way of nutrients and water, storing a small amount of both to, in effect, ration itself. The hollow needles pipe any blood that may have gotten on them due to an unwary creature jabbing themselves on the nettles down to the core getting both liquid and nutrients that way.
If there is one thing that can be said of the underground ecology of diosett is that the drahiin and the needlebloom will persevere. Stubborn and strong the plant and their primary users will grow and propagate. That said, the needlebloom prefers more temperate climates. It does well near underground water springs, especially the hot ones, but like any life... doesn't do terribly well near active magma floes or any where especially hot.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
As mentioned in the article the plant is used for several things: the nettles are treated and hollowed out and used to deliver different liquids to an intended target from medicine to hunting poison to tattoo ink; several parts of the plant are used for sustenance with the nettles being used for a tea or stock/broth, the roots are used in stock-broth as well, the roots have been powdered for seasoning; the roots can also be used for making paper, being pulped and treated. The moss-like skirt, with its absorbent nature has been used in both medical practice as well as personal hygiene uses.
Written for:: Peculiar Plants 2021 Challenge
There is currently no worry of this planet becoming a threatened, endangered or extinct species any time soon. It is a hardly plant that has survived for ages in a near-totally-dark subterranean environment with its main utilizers breeding and spreading several sub-varieties on top of being a naturally hearty plant.