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The moon blossom is a showy plant with flowers ranging from pale pink to crimson or purple. It grows from bulbs, much like daylilies, and reproduces primarily through the parent bulb budding off new bulbs. Like daylilies, the bulbs each put up stalks that have multiple short-lived flowers, though each flower lasts several days.
The primary use of moon blossoms is in making contraceptive teas. The tea made from the flowers is pleasant and delicate when made alone, though often a tea is made that uses other herbs for flavor, caffeine, or vitamin content. The whole flower is used, including the flower’s pistils and stamen. The tea can be made from dried flowers, however, when made from fresh flowers, one needs less of the tea for it to be effective.
A secondary use of the moon blossom plant is that the roots can be used to make a tincture that can treat some types of infertility in women. Getting the dosage correct is tricky, however, and so the making and prescribing of these tinctures is generally left to doctors, midwives, and wisewomen. A weaker tea made from the flowers, the roots, or both can be used to treat symptoms of menopause.
In general, men avoid moon blossom tea, as it can have feminizing effects, stimulating breast growth and affecting the function and size of the male genitalia. A no gender person, however, might use the tea if they hoped to appear more feminine, as might someone born physically male but whose self-identification was female.
There are a number of varieties of moon blossom, suited for growing in different conditions, though all of them can be grown in pots. In some areas, they are required to be grown in pots or otherwise "within walls", so that the tendency to spread through the root bulbs is contained, and more fragile local plants are not endangered.
The common varieties are as follows:
- The desert moon blossom is suitable for arid conditions and is drought tolerant, though it does not grow in deep deserts, except where there is a water source near. The desert moon blossom’s blossoms are pinks and purples with tones of peach and beige.
- The jungle moon blossom is the brightest of the flowers, scarlet and crimson and magenta, with tones of dark brown. It is the most shade tolerant of the moon blossoms, but it requires regular watering.
- The swamp moon blossom has flowers ranging from lavender to deep purple, with tones of beige or brown. It is the most water tolerant of the moon blossoms, but will die quickly in a pot if not watered daily.
- The desert moon blossom is the variety most often cultivated outdoors around the Empire. Jungle moon blossoms are the most often cultivated indoors.
Breeders have recently cultivated jungle moon blossoms and hybrid moon blossoms with orangey, bluish, and beigy-white flowers. The response of the public has been mixed. The colors are attractive, however, since the new varieties have not been studied scientifically, some women wonder if the plants will provide the same level of protection from pregnancy.
Varieties of moon blossom have been found in nearly all formerly sundered areas. Most are identical to the varieties described above, however occasionally there are differences, a few of which are described below:
- In the Breida Mountains, there is a small moon blossom that appears to be a relative of the desert moon blossom, whose flowers only turn from green to the familiar pink, magenta, peach and beige after being in the sun for a full day. The tradition in that area is that the men of the region attempted to destroy the flower, prior to Obo teaching them the true nature of their god, causing the flower to develop a natural camouflage.
- The Irfai have a variety of moon blossom that is salt-water tolerant and whose flowers range from pale pink to yellow with beige or white.
Finally, the snow-unicorn riders have a variety that sprouts from sheltered areas and blooms in mid-summer, under the midnight sun, in flowers that range from crimson to magenta with pale pink and beige tones. This variety puts out new flowers daily, when the original flowers are picked. The snow-unicorn riders call the flower Summer Dreams, and it is sometimes given as a courting gift. However, it is not eaten or made into tea, and they do not associate it with the moon blossom flower that's mentioned as part of "what Kladeith knew".
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