|Official Name||Lorwick Thistle|
|Common Name||Soldier Thistle|
|Common Use||Ornamental, Defense|
Lorwick Thistles are an invasive species of weed found in eastern Daendroc and the island of Kilarallis. They are a particularly large and fast-growing breed of thistle that can be used as a defensive hedge with proper maintenance, but can also become problematic as they have a tendency to grow rapidly and engulf the land around them if left unchecked, pushing out other native species. Lorwick Thistles have vibrant flowers that, along with the rest of their menacing appearance, have earned them some interesting nicknames.
The Lorwick Thistle is native to Kilarallis, though it has also spread to mainland Daendroc after the Cataclysm shook the island. It was one of the few plants that tolerated the island's barren landscape and grew on its rocky mountains. Here, the plant was small and unremarkable; a mere groundcover weed that grew no larger than a foot wide. The plant would occasionally find its way to more habitable lands near the coast, but like other weeds, it would be aggressively purged out of the precious and limited fertile land by local farmers.
At some point in Kilarallis' bloody history, a self-proclaimed lord by the name of Wick had the ingenious idea of cultivating this plant as a natural defensive hedge for his home. It turned out that, given a rich environment, the thistle would grow to larger proportions, becoming both taller and leafier than the specimen that grew up in the mountains. The thistle spread rapidly across Lord Wick's estate, and for a while, he allowed this to happen along the entrances and pathways of his land. Yet, in just under a few months, the thistle had spread over his entire estate. Soon, the management of this weed became impractical; even setting fire to entire plots of land in an attempt to burn away everything proved useless as the soil itself was practically inundated with thistle seeds and deep-set roots that would grow back. Lord Wick eventually abandoned his land, at the same time losing power in the Kilarallis feuds. For the next few years, the land was completely overrun with what would be known as Lord Wick's Thistles. This continued until the soil was completely used up and the former estate joined the rest of Kilarallis as a barren, inhospitable landscape.
In Daenshore, the Lorwick Thistle has been cultivated by the more flora-savvy residents. Gardeners know well to cut the flowerheads before they can produce mature seeds. Here, the thistle has been more effectively used for both decoration and defense against wild animals and intruders.
Lorwick Thistles are monstrous weeds that can reach eight feet tall with a thick foliage. They have prickles on their leaves and stems, with some prickles on the leaves being barbed, curving back like fishhooks, making them quite painful to bump into. Lorwick Thistles have larger roots than other thistles, allowing them to store more energy to grow at a faster pace. The taproot can reach a couple inches thick and several feet long, somewhere between the size of a carrot and a radish. Given good conditions, a full-sized thistle root can grow a new plant to maturity and flower in mere weeks. The thistles take two seasons for their roots to grow to full size, and can live over five years.
The more appealing part of the plants, however, are their flowers. Their flowerheads have a puffy, bristled appearance with vibrant colors. There are four varieties of Lorwick Thistles, each of which have different colors: magenta-red, golden yellow, lavendar-blue, and creamy white. In Daenshore, the juxtaposition of a large, thorny body with brilliant flowers invoked the image of a plumed soldier. As such, each of the four varieties were given quite regal nicknames:
- The magenta-red variety is known as the Fireball Princess thistle.
- The golden yellow variety is known as the Gold Helm thistle.
- The lavendar-blue variety is known as the Night’s Watchman thistle.
- And finally, the rare creamy white variety is known as the Evening Prince thistle.
Uses and Abilities
The curved, angular shape of the leaves and the bright flowers make Lorwick Thistles a visually appealing plant. As a hedge, it acts as a decent deterrent of most pest animals. While the plant can grow up to eight feet tall, most gardeners trim it to keep the flowers within reachable height. The blooms last a month; lasting even shorter if they are successfully pollinated. When that happens, gardeners cut the flowers off after a day or two to prevent them from seeding and to keep the thistles under control.
The prickles of the plant are durable enough to poke through a couple layers of clothing and tear bare skin. Though plated armor is enough to protect against it, the barbed nature of the leaves mean that they can enter any exposed areas.
The milky white sap that the thistle secretes is mildly toxic. This sap has a nutty flavor that when ingested causes nausea that lasts a few minutes, as well as vomiting. It is present all through the plant and can be accessed by simply tearing a leaf or cutting the root and letting it flow out. Overconsumption isn't fatal, it just causes more nausea and vomiting, as well as headaches.
- The main natural threat to Lorwick Thistles are grubs that eat and burrow into their roots.
- While the thistle poses a threat to the fertile areas of Kilarallis, in Daendroc this threat is less pronounced due to the presence of a more diverse ecosystem of competing flora.
- Most varieties won't mix their colors if you crossbreed them, they only became duller and less vibrant. The exception is the Evening Prince, which can become tinted with another variety's color. Pure breeds of Evening Prince thistles are rare and considered an heirloom plant.