Black Bog Oak
Sources of wood are hard to come by in the Underdark, as trees cannot survive beneath the surface of the Material Plane. However, one species of fungus has naturally evolved with features that are incredibly close to those of trees found on the surface world, to the extent that it can be turned into lumber for building or burned as firewood.
AnatomyOne of the most bizarre things about Black Bog Oak, is that it is a fungus, not a tree, even though they look very similar to a small oak in form. Black Bog Oaks take the standard form of a thick, trunk like body, with limbs branching off it, with twig like protrusions that are tipped with green, bioluminescent fronds that bear a striking resemblance to leaves. The mycelia that make up the body of Black Bog Oaks bond together much more strongly than in other fungi, which is what allows Black Bog Oaks to grow to such sizes and what allows them to be turned into timber or other lumber products in the same way that wood felled from trees is.
Dietary Needs and habitatBlack Bog Oaks survive in dark, damp habitats, where they convert organisms, other fungi and the soil itself into a food source to sustain themselves. The frondlike tendrils on the branch structures of Black Bog Oaks are through to absorb moisture from the atmosphere around them, as well as absorbing and turning into food the spores emitted by other fungi that land on them.
The ‘wood’ of Black Bog Oak is incredibly tough, as tough and durable as oak, which along with the colour is what contributed to the organism’s name. This means that it can fulfil all of the roles that one would normally use the wood from trees for. It also burns well, hot but slowly, meaning that offcuts of Black Bog Oak can be used as a very efficient source of heat.
Geology & Geography
Black Bog Oak is only found beneath the surface of the Material Plane in the Underdark, though it is also thought to be found in areas of the Feywild and the Shadowfell. It is found in the largest concentration in the Midnight Marshes of the Upper Underdark, but a large concentration is also found along the shores and on the islands of the Lake of Tears in the Middle Underdark. Individuals and small copses of Black Bog Oak can be routinely found in damp parts of the Underdark, but none in such greater concentrations as in the two places previously mentioned. No examples of Black Bog Oaks surviving in the Deep Underdark have ever been found and it is assumed that it is too hot and dry for them to survive there.
History & Usage
As trees cannot be grown in the Underdark and it is expensive to import vast quantities of lumber there from the surface world, Black Bog Oak fills all of the gaps that traditional timber would.
Black Bog Oaks themselves are not dangerous, but groves of them do often harbour dangerous creatures, so they should be navigated with care.
Relatively low value, but more expensive than wood grown and harvested on the surface of Kelbonnar’s Material Plane.
Ranges in colour from deep dark brown to jet black. Unlike trees, this colour is the same hue and consistency through the whole cross section of a Black Bog Oak.