Found exclusively in the Woods of Escaine, crimson pine trees are one of the most stunning sights to behold in all the Kingdom of Éirigh. These breathtaking trees are as ancient as time itself, shrouded in mysterious fog and dappled beams of sunlight. But while the legends of faeries and enchantment that surround this ancient place may not be true, the trees do hold many secrets yet to be uncovered.
Genetics and Reproduction
Crimson pines reproduce through the creation of pine cones, starting 20 years into their development. Every tree bears both pollen and cones. Pollen is usually created in the lower branches of the tree, and has two small structures that can carry it on the wind to nearby trees. When the pollen lands on fertile cones in the high branches of neighboring trees, these two components form an embryo. Over time, usually about 7-10 years, these embryos grow into mature pine cones about half the size of a ripe pineapple, and fall to the ground. There they are often eaten or carried off by various beasties until they make their way into the ground to gestate.
Growth Rate & Stages
The gestation period of a crimson pine can be anywhere from 1-10 years long, as seeds will not sprout without ideal conditions. Once a seed has sprouted, it will grow steadily from a small sapling to the size of an average pine tree (anywhere between 10' and 20' tall) over the following 20 years, at which point it gains the ability to reproduce. It takes approximately 100 years for a single crimson pine to reach full maturity. Once they have reached this stage, it is not uncommon for them to boast a hefty 20-30' diameter at chest height, and they may grow to reach over 300-400' in height.
Crimson Pines have evolved advanced defenses to allow them to live so long. They have a high concentration of terpenoids and tannic acid in their leaves, roots, bark, and wood, which not only gives them their brilliant red color, but protects them from insects, rot, and fungal infections. In addition, the thick bark of a mature crimson pine has fire resistant qualities.
Ecology and Habitats
Crimson Pines are immensely rare, as they require not only heavy rainfall (at least 100 inches of rain per year), but nearly constant fog, as well. Due to the thick canopy of pine needles they create overhead, like a cathedral ceiling over the forest floor, other forms of vegetation are limited to plants that prefer shaded areas. Typically, you will find blackcurrants, low shrubs, and ivy vines along the forest floor around them.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
The Woods of Escaine are protected by the King and Royal Family of Éirigh. The beautiful, deep red wood of these ancient trees is the most expensive and sought after material in the kingdom, but as such a rare species with limited supply, one must receive permission directly from the King to cut down or harvest even a single tree. Most of the crimson pinewood you'll find is in structures and architectural accents of The Royal City or The Royal Palace of Éirigh, much of which was harvested at the time of the city's construction.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
Due to the very specific habitat necessary for sustained growth, crimson pines are only known to exist in the Woods of Escaine in the center of Éirigh.
Civilization and Culture
Common Myths and Legends
The Woods of Escaine are known throughout the kingdom, deeply shrouded in legend. Some call them cursed, others enchanted, but all agree it’s a strange place. Almost as old as time itself, the forest is dense and overgrown. The trees are enormous even at their base, and their crowns hang high above the ground, like the ceiling of some stunning cathedral. The thick branches and clusters of needles turn the sunlight a dappled shade of green, ominous in some places, inviting in others.
Many have been declared lost here, said to have been lured in by its beautiful spell and trapped to wander aimlessly betwixt the roots and shrubs. Only a single clan of robbers was supposedly able to tame this forest. Escaine and the Marauders, they were called, and the woods named after them. Their raids terrified the country for years, leaving whole towns ruined in their wake, until one day they simply ended.
No one knows who they were or where they went, or if they ever even existed, though many believe the great wood finally took mastery over its self-imposed masters. Every child in Éirigh grew up on the stories around their campfires, but as a grown man I’d always assumed the king merely fed the legends to the people to keep them out of his favored hunting grounds.
Permission must be granted directly by the King to cut down or harvest crimson pine trees.
Woods of Escaine
An ancient wood of near mythical proportions that surrounds the King's Lands.
The Royal City
Found in the center of the King's Lands, the Royal City is home to the Royal palace of Éirigh, along with the Royal Family, the most notable nobles, and other favorites of the King.
The King's Lands
Located at the heart of Éirigh, the King's Lands encompass everything within the Woods of Escaine. This stretch of land is the only part of the kingdom owned and directly ruled by the King, and features both the Royal Palace and the Royal City.