Levin

Overview

Herbs are plants which enhance our lives, as they serve and delight us. Since the earliest of times people have sought to vary and liven the flavour of their monotonous staple foods. No herb I know of does this as well as the humble Levin plant.
The Magikus Botanica by Raguth Maladrin
Found high up in the Bertheirdeen mountain range situated at the east edge of the Storm Wall, the Levin Plant is one of the most sought after herbs in the Queendom of Vreabia. Used for everything from magical experimentation to food to medicine its value has skyrocketed in recent years.

First discovered in the year 86 FC by the Royal Botanomancer Raguth Maladrin, Levin was one of the first magical plant mutations recorded in the Queendom. Found glowing in the storm during a routine check of the continuing strength of the Storm Wall the plant was carefully gathered and studied for many years before it started to be used for things like cooking.

At first it was only available for select royal events but as more viable collection and shipping endeavours popped up it began to be available for the general citizenry, albeit at a very high price. Now due to the remote cultivation and gathering efforts that have been established over hundreds of years the plant is common enough in the city that it is accessible to most people and used frequently in national dishes.
Levin Plant
by Alex Griffiths
 

Anatomy

I have never seen anything where the influence of excess magical energy is more apparent than the Levin Plant. Through forced magical evolution it has become truly a wonder of the natural world.
The Magikus Botanica by Raguth Maladrin
 
The stems of the plant are thick and strong to stand up against the high storm winds. It is covered in hard ridges that grant flexibility while also maintaining tensile strength. It has a somewhat otherworldly glow to it coming from the sap running inside the stem. In strong storms the glow shines brighter making it easier to find.

On top is a large, hollow, waxy flower bud that has small holes at the base. Each hole is surrounded by small stamen covered in a waterproof sticky pollen. Inside the flower bud is large pistil covered with receptors for the pollen and with wet patches of oozing nectar to feed the insects that pollinate it.
Levin Bud Cutaway
by Alex Griffiths
After pollination the plant sprouts a series of strong wing like growths on top for the wind to grab hold of and carry it off.

Each plant has two to three offshoots from the main stem that have an even number of long toothed leaves. These leaves conduct ambient electricity over them and not through them, which causes electrical surges to jump from leaf to leaf saving the plant from suffering damage. Touching the leaves without protection or precautions is a dangerous activity and can cause serious injury and even death.

Inside the flower bud it has a dark coloured seed pod with yellow markings, inside which are some ridged hard seeds.
Levin Seed Pod
by Alex Griffiths
 

Flower Characteristics

 
The flower pods are shaped like little lanterns, ovoid shaped with flattened dents all over it. The colours range from a light orange all the way to a deep red, usually a gradient of the two. There are small holes near the bottom. Each hole has a ridged hood over formed by the retracting flower matter and is granting some protection from the winds. Surrounding the holes are the pollen covered incarnadine stamen which are shaped like thin hairs. These are next to impossible for the insects to avoid.

Unlike many flowers it doesn't give off a noticeable scent. Botanomancers have surmised this is because the constant water and wind would render any sort of smell useless. Instead they think it gives off a magical aura that attracts the pollinators.

Levin Flower Bud
by Alex Griffiths
 
 

Reproduction

The plants are pollinated by the Thunder Thrips with which the plant has a symbiotic relationship. Seeds are carried by the umbrella like flower buds (they change after pollination) on the high winds. Intense electrical activity cause them to crack and fall.

The Thunder-Thrips pollinate and hide inside the flowers from storms. They move from plant to plant using their hooked feet and sip sap from inside the flower buds which gives the insects magical resistance to the electricity that goes through the leaves and the storm itself.
 

Symbiotic Organisms

Thunder-Thrips live in harmony within the environment of the storm zone due to the wonder of the Levin plant. Without it to shelter in during the heavy, near constant, rainfall the insects would have a very hard time surviving. The shelter also provides food for the small bug, another thing that is sparse in the hostile environment. The food itself gives the bugs a level of innate magical protection from the lightning in the region as well as the electrical surges that pass over the plants leaves.

As payment for this threefold gift from the plant the insect does the tough and needed job of pollinating the Levin. Due to its electrical properties it is hostile to the few other lifeforms in the area.

Thunder Thrip
by Alex Griffiths
 

Growth Rates & Stages

  1. Sprout: After being carried by a storm and supercharged with storm magic the seeds land in a suitable place. The seed then starts to grow in its new habitat.
  2. Seedling: Roots start to develop and spread, pushing through the rocky earth. Early leaves sprout from the stalk and begin to absorb residual magic from the air.
  3. Vegetative: More stalks grow from the main stem which is starting to grow bigger and has its first faint glow. More leaves appear absorbing more and more magical energies.
  4. Budding: The buds on top begin to appear, small at first but growing fast. The stalk gets thicker still and is glowing strongly now.
  5. Flowering: The buds open their pollination holes and are ready to be used as shelter and for pollination to occur. The leaves of the plant now have residual overflow magical energy running through them manifesting as electrical current jumping from leaf to leaf.
  6. Podding: The pistil inside the plant shrinks down once pollinated and hardens. Over the next few days it will metamorphose into the seed pod ready to take to the winds. The exterior of the flower bud starts to grow the little wings at the top to aid the wind in carrying it.
  7. Ripening: The stem under the flower bud weakens to aid in detaching from the main stem. The flower is now waiting for a strong enough wind storm to take it off the main plant body
  8. Flight of the Seed Pod: A strong wind grabs hold of the upper wings on the flower bud and pulls it free from the body of the plant carrying it through the storm until enough magical lightning is present to cause it to burst and scatter its seeds.
   

Ecology & Habitat

Exclusively found high in the Berthierdeen Mountains on the Vreabian side of the Storm Wall. Entirely localised in the mountainous region known as the Lightning Bluffs. The area has been divided into sectors, each sector has a gatherer living there who is responsible for the cultivation and protection of the Levin plants. The plant is mostly found in rockier regions of the mountains, areas where there aren't any wind breaks or other plants besides grasses.

There is some debate if the Levin plant itself only grows in areas with no plants or its magical and hostile nature actively prevents other plants from growing nearby.

The energy gained from the abundant storm magic gives the plant a natural immunity from the majority of the adverse effects in the Storm Wall region. The water that falls mostly soaks down into the extensive cave formations inside the mountains. The roots of the plant are hardy and strong, holding them tightly to the rocky ground.

Dietary Needs

Being a magiotroph the plant absorbs latent magical energy directly from the air and ground. This gives it a natural hardiness and resistance. This plant requires a large amount of ambient storm magic and a region of high elevation.

Levin Habitat
by Alex Griffiths
 

Biological Cycle

After the flower buds have taken flight the plant enters a short form of hibernation where its leaves fall off the main stem and it starts its process of growth over. A new bud is formed on top, more leaves will sprout and the bud will eventually be carried by the wind. Harvest of the bud early can cause the plant to enter the hibernation period before its ready to sustain itself which causes the plant a premature death.

After one or two years of repeating this process the plant will stop this cycle and go into a deeper hibernation that is essentially plant death. Botanomancers that have studied the plant think that it is something to do with the fact that each time it goes through the process it needs more and more magical energy to sustain itself getting to a point where there isn't enough in the surrounding area to survive on. They theorise that if a big enough infusion of magical energy could be put into the area the stalks of old Levin could sprout again. However this process would be a waste of energy as fresh plants can give the same products for less magic.

The canniest gatherers of the plant know to pull these 'dead' stalks to allow younger plants less competition for the ambient magical energies. Thus promoting better growth and more bountiful harvests.
 

Domestication

I find myself at my wits end, this stupid plant has rebuffed all my attempts to cultivate it. I don't understand why it so tenaciously refuses to grow. How difficult can it really be, it's just a plant. I must go now, my neighbours have gotten together to force me to stop my experiments. Apparently they don't appreciate the indoor lightning storm I have created in my rooms. I cannot imagine why.
The personal diary of Raguth Maladrin, recovered from his corpse after his untimely demise at the hands of a lynch mob

It has thus far resisted all attempts at domestication. It seems to rely too much upon the magical area it developed in. Many attempts have been made to recreate these conditions and many have ended in disaster, either for the magical practitioner involved or for the locality it was attempted in. All research into cultivation of the plant has been banned from populated regions.
   

Uses, Byproducts & Exploitation

The seeds of the plant can be harvested and on impact create a crack like a strike of lightning. This is very rarely done however due to fact that the seeds are a highly sought after ingredient for cooking. They are ground up to a fine spice and added to food to create a very popular tingling effect to the dish. It feels like a faint electric shock across the tongue and is a staple of Vreabian cooking.

The leaves of the plant are also gathered and mashed to a pulp to make a substance that has lightning/electricity resistance which is highly regarded by magic users.

The sap of the plant is prized for its local anaesthetic effect through electro-anaesthesia. Diluted it can be used for medical purposes but if eaten neat can cause anaesthetic toxicity and be fatal.

The flowers are generally considered a waste product with no use but to the people who live in the mountains and harvest the rest of the plant the flowers are used to make a very potent alcoholic drink that actually glows faintly and has a strong, bitter taste. The locals call this Shine-Wine due to the glow that comes off it. Its faintly electrical nature means it has to be housed within a wooden flask instead of a metal one. Glass is too expensive for the poorer demographic that harvests the plant to afford.

Comments

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Journeyman N4th
James Slaven
9 Apr, 2021 18:19

Great job! The art is awesome! Wow. It really helps to have all those visuals as you work your way through the article. I quite liked the symbiotic relationship with the thrips, too.

Grandmaster AoLi
Alex Griffiths
9 Apr, 2021 18:23

Thank you for the lovely comment. I'm glad you liked the artwork.

9 Apr, 2021 20:17

Nice article and great plant :D I particularly like the uses you've made for them. It's fun that it's mainly used in cooking wine and it gives people a fuzzy feeling XD   You have very nice illustrations! What software did you use to make them?   Here are a few notes I took while reading:   " mountain range situated at east edge of the Storm Wall," You have a "the" missing before "east".   I'm wondering why magical plants were not available before this one was discovered. Were they not people living in this location before? Or did they know about the plant but not that it was magical? Or does it grow sparcely in a very remote location and so nobody noticed it before?   What was the reaction of people at first at putting that in their food? I'd imagined some were enthusiastic but a lot of people would have been really suspicious of just eating a new magical plant…   I like the seed dispersal method :D

9 Apr, 2021 20:18

and I didn't copy the end of my comment properly... here it is:   " After the flower buds have taken flight the plant enters a short form of hibernation where its leaves fall off the main stem and it starts its process of growth over. A new bud is formed on top, more leaves will sprout and the bud will eventually be carried by the wind. Harvest" You don't mention any period in between the cycle. Why lose the leaves if it's just to reform them immediately after? It's just a waste for the plant. Is there a winter in between that you forgot to mention?   " Apparently they don't appreciate the indoor lightning storm I have created in my rooms. I cannot imagine why." XD   " The seeds of the plant can be harvested and on impact create a crack like a strike of lightning." You mean when they fall to the ground? Or when they are smashed opened? Do grinding not give a similar effect?   " electro-anaesthesia" Oh that's interesting!   " but the people who live in the mountains and harvest the rest of the plant" I think you have a "to" missing before "the people".   "Glass is too expensive for the poorer demographic that harvests the plant to afford." But I don't think that metal glass are very common and inexpensive either, are they? The most common would probably be something done from pottery (or whatever you call the resulting objects in English). Is it different in your world?   I would personally move the last two sections higher up since the information about the characteristic is partly repeated from earlier I think and the one from the "Thunder-Thrips" would be useful in the reproduction section – I think that especially having the illustration there would be useful.

Grandmaster AoLi
Alex Griffiths
10 Apr, 2021 12:58

Thank you so much for such an in-depth and great comment. Getting such positive feedback on my work has really made my day.   For the images I made them in Dreams for the PS4, in VR using the motion controls. Lovely bit of software that I highly recommend to everyone who has access to try it.   Thank you for the corrections on my grammar, it seems it doesn't matter how many grammar and spelling edit passes one does there is always something that slips through the cracks.   So this is one of the first discovered magical plants because nature elsewhere had been left alone, the Storm Wall that influences this plant has messed with the ecology and geography of the area something fierce. One of the themes of the novel I'm writing that this world is for is that the people are starting to learn just how disruptive it has been to the natural order of things and the problems that arise from that.   I tried to keep the article on point about the plant as much as possible but it has caused many other articles to get added to my "to write" list. Also I didn't want to give away any secrets that I'm planning for the book just yet.   Your comment on why the leaves die off is interesting and caused me to consider the issue deeper and if I find myself with some time today might add in an extra sentence or two to cover it. Thank you for that as well.   In regards to the last part of your comment, I used the inbuilt prompt sections for my formatting (I'm fairly new to WA). I didn't think I could move those sections about without just making them from scratch in the main body of the article. Am I wrong in that thinking? I would have loved to be able to edit the layout more, it felt fairly arbitrary in the order of them.   Thank you again for the wonderful comment.

10 Apr, 2021 13:28

Glad my comment was helpful! :D   No, you can't move the prompt sections about unfortunately... I usually only look at them for inspiration but write everything in the main body of the text since I prefer that freedom. I'm also relatively new since I joined at the very end of January , but welcome :D   Ah yes, I have the same problem with trying to keep the spoilers away from the articles. What I've done in those cases is present the article from the POV of the people in the world and say that they don't really know for sure, but here are their current speculations.   And that grammar and spelling thing is annoying... No matter how many time I reread an article there are still some left!

Grandmaster AoLi
Alex Griffiths
18 Apr, 2021 16:33

Thanks again for the comments on placement of the sections. I've just redone the formatting so they are now in better places for the information (coupled with a new colour scheme and css design!). I agree the freedom is worth the extra work.

10 Apr, 2021 16:07

Very cool plant and art that you created! It makes everything you mention in the article all the more clear. The reproduction with the seed waiting until it has enough magical lightning is very original. I can understand why it is so hard to cultivate.   The culinary applications were a nice addition as well. The fact that it gives a slight tingle when eaten must be quite the culinary experience :)

Feel free to check out my costume entry. :)
Grandmaster AoLi
Alex Griffiths
10 Apr, 2021 17:30

Thank you for checking out my plant and for the nice comment. I'm glad you like my art, I had hoped they would make everything easier to understand :)

13 Apr, 2021 22:42

It most certainly did ^^ They were some nice additions!

Feel free to check out my costume entry. :)
12 Apr, 2021 12:22

Oh wow, this plant is awesome! The models you created look dope as hell, its awesome to have such visuals for a plant. I also really like how the plant has so many different uses!

Author of Interarcanum and the Shakiraverse

Feel free to check out my submission to the costume challenge!
Grandmaster AoLi
Alex Griffiths
12 Apr, 2021 17:09

Thanks for the comment. I'm really happy how well the images came out, I was unsure on them for so long.

12 Apr, 2021 22:32

My brother would love this. In his words, he likes it when his food fights back. And neat images too, really helps picture it!   Meanwhile, my mind went to a horror scenario where someone discovers an entire field of dead Levins blooming again, suggesting some really big magic went crazy there.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young   Costume Challenge Entry: As Superpowered troops on an alien planet, the Battle Spears wear a uniform capable of handling all they face
Grandmaster AoLi
Alex Griffiths
16 Apr, 2021 16:47

Thanks for the comment. I love that idea, knowing something huge happened but not knowing what!

16 Apr, 2021 00:28

Hi AoLi! To put it simply, your 3D artwork is AMAZING. I enjoyed reading through your plant article as well but your images steal the show. My favourite parts are the idea of "botanomancy" and the symbiotic relationship you've included with the Thunder-Thrips. Keep up the great work!

xtremepsy | Ölütanrı
Checkout my other favourite entries to the 2021 Peculiar Plant HERE!
Feel free to read, favourite, and comment on my entry, Digivine.
Grandmaster AoLi
Alex Griffiths
16 Apr, 2021 16:50

Aaw thank you so much for the kind words. I'm so happy with how well the imagery has been received.