The Temporal Aspens
WASC 19 prompt -- "Write about an important plant in your world and what it is used for."
Temporal aspen -- the schmantasy word for TIME TREES. These trees are technically a single organism, which pokes out in a hundred million different trunks. This forest is so old it's full of magic that has long since grown rare everywhere else. And this magic has totally transformed life for everyone near the forest.
It's impossible to tell just how old these aspens are. Looking at tree rings and bark is useless; samples an inch away from each other may show ages a thousand years apart. And carbon dating isn't much better. One scientist concluded a sample was about 12,000 years old, retested the next day, and observed only a few hundred years' worth of decay. Clearly, something in the trees is messing with time. As such, those who study the forest can only conclude that they're old as heck.
But that doesn't matter to most people. For the layman, temporal aspens are just where money comes from. In the Moonsville economy, money does grow on trees; tappers collect temporal sap, brimming with raw magic. They deliver it to the Moonsville Treasury workers, who process the sap and turn it into amber-based coins. Time amber -- tamber -- can be extracted by breaking the coins, but until then, they're exchanged as straight-up currency. In Moonsville, tamber rules your life.
Time sap is mostly valued for being, y'know, money, but it has other uses too. Get enough tamber to submerge something (or someONE dun dun dun!), and you can freeze them in time. Syrup and candy made out of the magical sap can act like potions, and there are rumors that someone has figured out how to make a tamber anti-aging drug. If they're right, we might have a real
fountain forest of youth on our hands.
The bark of temporal aspen also has a reputation for being especially strong and kind of resistant to certain magics and most fire. Naturally, it's a popular building material, so the forest has been extended into into dedicated tree-farm areas. Individual people also do their best to cultivate time trees, but there's a catch -- their bit has to be connected to the rest of the forest to have the magic that makes it so valuable. To make this possible in the forest, older generations of Moonsville grew roots into a network that snakes underneath the whole city. Now it's one giant garden, with aspens popping up all over the place and releasing magic into the air with oxygen.
(P.S. -- Temporal aspens are inspired by Pando, an 80,000 year old single-organism aspen forest in Utah!)