There was a sudden chill, as she pulled from her cloak a most delicate thing. A fern, coiled, as though tightly woven, slowly unraveled its soft, pale blue fronds to reveal the prize inside. A flower, stark white at its base, with petals which appeared to morph into glass at their tips... this beauty, presented to me by my beloved, an offering by which to bind our hearts for all time...The glacial fern is a rare flowering fern found in the deepest reaches of The Hearthwood. It is sought after for many reasons, though most notably as an essential component of Lessai Nimatan marriage proposals and ceremonies.
AppearanceThe glacial fern is a modest-sized plant, rarely growing over two feet in any direction. A fern only in appearance, with leaves that grow in delicate, pale blue fronds, the glacial fern is a flowering plant which boasts a singular stunning white bloom. This funnel-form flower, white at its base, shifts at the tips of its petals to a glass-like translucency. Glacial ferns in the wild will not produce any fruit, but can be coaxed to do so under the proper conditions when cultivated.
BehaviorThe leaflets of the glacial fern react to external stimuli such as being touched, shaken, or warmed. When disturbed, the fern coils tightly into itself to shield the flower at its center.
Reproduction and CultivationThe method by which the glacial fern reproduces has been researched and observed by few, and is regarded as a mystery by most. Hearthwild druids are the most knowledgeable on the subject of the plant's reproduction and cultivation, a process they have described as "meticulous." Due to the plant's incredibly finicky nature, tending to more than one plant at a time often results in disastrous results for the entire collection. Glacial ferns are inherently magical plants, growing from earth infused with the energy of the Hearthwild's underlying leylines. As such, the ferns do not reproduce by any means expected of most other plants, but rather sprout spontaneously in locations where their ideal conditions are met. Cultivating the plant for the harvest of all of its parts requires the removal of the entire plant from the earth from which it sprouted. Caring for the plant from this point requires a powerful connection to the aspects of nature and the leylines which feed the Hearthwild, making the task nearly impossible for all but the Lessai.
The Lessai WayThe most notable use for the glacial fern is in Lessai Nimatan marriage proposals and ceremonies. Rites at each stage of the betrothal and marriage process utilize every piece of the plant over a long period of time, during which the couple is expected to cultivate, maintain, and harvest from their own fern. When a Lessai Nima decides it is time to propose to their beloved, they undertake extensive research for what may be anywhere between a few months to several years in order to study the glacial fern. This research, as well as field training, prepares the Nima for the expedition that will take them to the Hearthwild in search of their own fern. Given the rarity of the glacial fern, and the danger which lies within the untamed forest, the expedition itself is a long and treacherous one. There are three essential parts of the glacial fern involved in marriage rites:
- The Flower
- The Fronds
- The Fruit
The FlowerThe flower of the glacial fern is the focus of the first step of the Nimatan marriage rites: the proposal. Wild glacial ferns are always found in bloom, but the challenge lies in bringing the plant safely home to the one who is to receive it. With the plant's tendency to coil into itself, a gentle touch is required to ensure that the coiling fronds do not destroy the delicate flower within. A gentle touch and a command of basic druidic magic is all but required in order to deliver and properly present the flower itself to one's beloved. The presentation of the glacial fern flower is a momentous occasion which marks a pair as betrothed.
The FrondsIf accepted, the fern is set to continue its growth in the earth nearest to the pair's home. With proper care, the flower will slowly begin to wilt, and the fronds of the fern will transform from their usual pale blue to nearly white. Custom calls for a gathering of friends, family, and other loved ones, at which a banquet is served to commemorate the pending union. At this event, a beverage known as Wystyras, made from the fronds of the glacial fern, is served to all attendees.
The FruitThrough diligent care, the glacial fern may produce anywhere from two to five fruit, a gentle pale blue-white like the fern itself. Once preparations have been made for the marriage ceremony, the fruit are harvested and set in a bed of local or personally significant flowers, to be presented at the moment the lovers are to be united in marriage. Together they ritualistically consume the fruit, which represent the symbolic fruits of their cooperation, diligence, and devotion to their union.
Status Unknown: This organism is too rare to track, quantify, or cultivate on a large scale. Glacial Fern is not known to be at risk.