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Starflower - Flora
Written By: Deirdre / Wyld_Dandelyon (Writer), Deirdre / Wyld_Dandelyon (Artwork)
A tropical vine with night-blooming flowers and heart-shaped leaves, this plant has different varieties in different areas.
 
 

This family of vines with night-blooming flowers and heart-shaped leaves thrives in warm, moist climates throughout the southern areas of the Empire. The Empire's scientists first encountered the plant in the Riilass Swamps, so the local name there is applied to the whole family as well as the local variety. The entire plant is edible, but it has an odd flavor and is not in favor as a part of any diet.

The variety of starflower that grows in the Riilass Swamps is very tolerant of wet conditions and climbs high into the trees. The leaves are green with pale veining. The flowers are white with green veining and pink and lavender tones in the center of each petal. This flower gently glows in the dark. The flower blooms throughout the spring and summer, and to a lesser extent, in the fall.

A similar flower, with lavender and blue highlights to the petals and larger, more bluish leaves grows in the woods and on fences around Affaffilalo. The plant can also grow along the ground, crowding out more delicate plants. There it is most often called nightweed, though the term starflower is also known. While its beauty is appreciated in parks and along walkways, it is assiduously pulled from vegetable gardens.

There are numerous varieties of this plant that grow in the Rainbow Rainforest. The flowers are still pale, but can pick up greens, blues, oranges, yellows, bright pinks, and darker purples. The flowers also vary in size, some of them getting quite large. The leaves are likewise more colorful than the starflowers in other locales, sometimes subtly and sometimes the leaves' brightness rivals the flowers. The flowers are called Jraa’s Gift by the purists who live in the rainforest. The story is that Jraa scientifically altered the plants to make them more colorful and to heighten their glow-in-the-dark properties, as a gift for their spouse on the birth of their child. The flowers bloom any time of the year, and some varieties are used as night-lights in treetop dwellings. While they are prized for lighting night-time paths, the purists in the rainforest are very careful about the placement of these quick-growing plants, often rooting them in pots or hollows in the trees and limiting their growth to above the first layer of branches or planting them near trees that are not used by people, so the flowers don’t give away their residences and other buildings.

The story of Jraa’s Gift is also handed down through many Mayaloi parents and grandparents in all corners of the Empire, though the details vary dramatically from family to family. Sometimes in the stories the glowing flowers are shaped quite differently (some say like a rose or a butterfly). Others describe the plant as a mushroom instead of a flowering vine.

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