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The meffirb tree grows in the south in semi-arid conditions.
Although it lives in a dryish landscape the meffirb tree needs a lot of water to grow, so a stand of meffirb trees is a sign that there is water underground and digging nearby will usually find an underground stream or at least enough groundwater for a good well.
The meffirb tree is central to the local ecology, and many creatures are dependent on it.
Its trunk is thick and bulbous and “twigs” of meffirb tend to be fat and stumpy
The leaves are hard, shiny, thick and bulbous to conserve water, each leaf is three lobed with a sharp dry spike sticking from each lobe.
After a rare rainstorm the meffirb will rapidly burst into flower. Buds will form all over the branches and trunk, growing rapidly into sturdy fleshy stems that open into flower within 2 days of the rain.
The central petals of the flower are a soft frilled cream and brown with a stiffer outer ring of 5 petals of burnt orange.
The scent, if you can imagine a combination of burnt sugar, crushed strawberries and musk.
Thousands of butterflies pupated after the brief rain flock to the meffirb flowers. After a few weeks the land has dried out again and the butterflies are gone until the next big rain which may not be for several years. The butterflies are similar in pattern and colouration to the Meffirb flower and are known as meffirb butterflies (also sometimes known as “Morning after rain”), the caterpillars feed on grasses that sprout after the rain and survive the dry seasons in chrysalis form.
The fruits swell up rapidly and then over the weeks they slowly dry The full grown meffirb fruit is about the size of a man's fist. When dry the fruits are hollow. They contain large hard black seeds. When the wind blows the seeds rattle inside the dry fruit and as more and more fruit ripens the trees start to make a “shimmering” noise in the wind. The fruits are green when unripe and ripen to brown with a purple sheen.
The noise of the ripe fruit travels for miles on the wind and attracts Kathork birds. Flocks of these birds descend on the meffirb trees and strip them in a matter of hours. The birds fly to one of the rapidly drying out lakes and ponds and soak the fruit in the water to soften it for eating, thus spreading the seeds.
The fruit is edible to humans. It isn't especially prized in the towns, being of a rather leathery texture, but it keeps well for a long time and cut into strips it is a useful staple for travelers and people who don't have a handy time crystal box for food storage. It can also be used in cakes and puddings in the same way as we use dates and raisins.
The whole dried fruit is often used as a rattle and teething toy for infants.
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All Related Articles:
Kathork: The Kathork is a bird that lives in a semi-arid region of the south.
Meffirb Butterfly: A primary pollinator of the Meffirb tree.
Plants of the Empire: Links to all the plants of the Empire.
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