The oldest society of verdials have a distinct culture that is somewhat homogeneous across the lands which they call home, as the cold of their native Caudal Tesseract has somewhat constrained their territorial growth and, therefore, kept inter-settlement connections relatively short. Verdials belonging to this primary ethnic group are known as Vale Verdials due to their concentration within Petalcap Vale.
Major language groups and dialects
Valespeak is the primary language of the Vale Verdials, though many will also seek to learn Human and Rostran languages to reconnect with their ancestral roots.
Culture and cultural heritage
Vale Verdial food is savory and rich in earthy, umami flavors. Tubers, root vegetables, squash (including Distal-adapted pumpkins), and a wide variety of mushrooms find their way into Vale Verdial cuisine, as these thrive in the cool, Distal environments from which the Verdials hail. Venison, rabbit, and chicken are the most popular proteins, as Caudal D lacks much in the way of open grazing fields for cattle or sheep. Cranberries, snowberries, and the fruits of Floating briars are sometimes added to marinades. Desserts are light, frozen treats made with fruits as the primary ingredient, with baked goods and candies being less common.
Common Dress code
Vale Verdials typically allow the petals and sheathes of their Caudal lichen symbiotes to escape their clothing, incorporating them into outfits when possible. This requires Vale Verdial clothing to have special cut-outs or to fall around the body such that gaps exist. Traditional Vale Verdial clothing often takes the form of short-sleeved, knee-high tunics in natural colors, with longer sleeves and bottoms for situations where increased limb protection was required. Additional bands of cloth are sometimes used for accents (i.e. to turn the bottom into a skirt) or to provide additional insulation against extreme temperatures. Vale Verdials with more cosmopolitan outlooks will sometimes adapt imported styles, especially from Voxelia or the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy. While the Caudal tesseract is notably cooler than most Manifold environs, Verdials are adapted to this environment, meaning that Vale Verdial apparel is surprisingly airy. Vale Verdials prefer to wear light, breathable fabrics such as insect silks, preferring to double- or triple-layer such fabrics if required to stave off cold. Unless dangerously cold weather is expected, Vale Verdials seldom wear waterproof apparel, as some moisture is good for their symbiotes. Belts and metal accessories are uncommon, as these can snag and injure exposed Caudal lichen limbs.
While Caudal lichen are edible, including those parts clipped from a Verdial during grooming procedures, there is substantial debate among Vale Verdials as to whether, and in what circumstances, eating lichen clippings is ethical. Lichen clippings (like milk) can convey both Verdial-specific illnesses and antibodies for said illnesses, and the blending of lichen strains in a Verdial's system causes a degree of recombination and horizontal genetic transfer between the symbiotes involved. Due to these facts, consuming another Verdial's clippings or offering one's own clippings for consumption is considered among Vale Verdials to be an act of intimacy not to be shared with anyone outside of a spousal relationship. Changes is symbiote shade can sometimes accompany such intimate contact, making infidelity more visible; a Vale Verdial is likely to reject a potential partner who "changes shade" regularly. Many slang terms, euphemisms, and dysphemism among the Vale Verdial people relate to cabbages and onions due to their passing resemblance to certain pieces of Verdial anatomy. Cabbages, especially, have a mixed reputation due to the association of eating their thick, meaty leaves with eating clippings from a symbiote (see above). Context and tone are important in determining whether a given use of these idioms is offensive or not. For example, saying that a buxom woman is a "fine side of cabbage" or a man's physique is "as firm as an early onion" would be considered complements, but calling someone a "cabbage-headed yokel" can easily provoke a confrontation.
While the typical Human preferences for symmetry and proportionality are present, Vale Verdials have additional aesthetic tastes which arise from their unique biology. Careful grooming, maintenance, and care for one's own Caudal lichen symbiote's petals and sheathe are considered important aspects of Vale Verdial hygiene. While an individual's symbiote can be incorporated into their fashion, it is different from most fashion choices in that it is a living thing that differs between individuals. Conformity with regard to symbiote grooming is taken as a sign of group membership in Vale Verdial culture, as achieving conformity with varying symbiote colors and shapes is difficult to achieve. Outside of symbiote grooming, body modification is not popular among Vale Verdials. Skin striation as a result of symbiosis can be controlled to a limited degree by exposure to sunlight, especially in the ultraviolet spectrum. While little can be done to control the shape of each striation, as these are set from birth, different regions of the skin can be conditionally darkened through the use of templates and strong light, producing regions where more of the striations are visible. Vale Verdial men are considered traditionally handsome if they have greater darkening around the arms (denoting outdoor work) or templated streaks across the cheeks (denoting military or paramilitary membership), while Vale Verdial women are considered traditionally beautiful if they can achieve uniform levels of fine striation all around the body (whether all monochrome or with uniform striation density).
In Vale Verdial culture, males are expected to be bold, durable, and exploratory, while females are expected to be nurturing, patient, and perceptive. Most line members of the Petalcap Vale Department of Defense, local law enforcement cadres, and frontier explorers are men, while women are more likely to be doctors or occupy civic roles within the Petalcap Vale municipality. Nevertheless, Vale Verdials have fewer gender-based occupational distinctions than other humanoid species. Because most households produce at least some goods for household use or for trade with other families, these jobs are considered open to either gender. While most other humanoids consider certain types of agricultural or botanical work to be more feminine in nature, as the Verdials are partially plant themselves, these occupations are considered unisex in Vale Verdial culture. Both genders are expected to contribute to the upkeep of a household and the rearing of children, though men are marginally more likely to work in fields which take them away for extended periods of time.
Vale Verdials are strictly monogamous amongst themselves and generally marry for life. Individuals who find spouses within their own species will often begin to take on the symbiote colors of their spouse over the course of years, making the connection between the two individuals increasingly obvious to see and, therefore, increasingly accepted as a permanent fixture within the local community. Because of the social consequences of this physiological change, Vale Verdials place a strong emphasis on communication between romantic partners, conflict mediation by friends in the community, and careful choice of courtship partners. No-fault divorces do not exist within Vale Verdial society. Individuals who chose to date outside of their species have more leeway in terms of mate selection, but in this case, extended periods of courtship may result in complications as the non-Verdial partner eventually acquiring their own symbiote from the Verdial partner - once again inducing the perception of relationship permanence in the Vale Verdial community.
In Vale Verdial culture, the best possible friend is a considerate person who is nevertheless reasonable, deliberate, and willing to advise one even when one isn't ready to hear the truth. While not all individuals are inherently blessed with these virtues, Vale Verdial culture considers it the responsibility of each individual to attempt to embody these virtues for the sake of their friends. This set of relationship ideals leads outsiders to sometimes view Verdials in general as being overly frank, with some statements Verdials make (i.e. direct reference to a friend's weight problem or poor personal hygiene) coming across as insults when they're actually meant as honest assessments coming from a place of friendly concern.