|Official Name||Lorwick Thistle|
|Common Name||Soldier Thistle|
Lorwick Thistles are an invasive species of weed originally found on 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 was originally native to Kilarallis, though it rapidly spread across the Allorn Empire after slave processing facilities were established in the region. Many scholars today believe that Ancient Worship got its common association of thorns and brambles involving pain and suffering from this region, especially in the case of The Bleeding Crown. Indeed, many slaves who sought to escape were almost torn to bits, not by wild animals or harsh magics wielded by the guards, but by this species of flower. It drew densely, and the Altalar often allowed it to ring and envelop rugged areas of their walls as a natural deterrent to escape. Still, some did, and the plant earned a menacing reputation. A common myth espoused about the plant is that it was a "Lord Wick" of Ceardia who, after the Cataclysm, desired the painful plant to help him maintain his own little empire in Oldt Era. The myth says that the plant was delivered, but then grew out of control, enveloping his whole castle to the point that he was forced to jump from its tallest tower, the fall into the deep bed of brambles tearing out his eyes, ripping apart his hands, and shredding his legs, causing him to lay there blind and unable to move until his death. The plant then spread across Aloria due to his foolish plans. While quite grim, there is no evidence of this "Lord Wick" though Lorwich Thistle has since popped up in a number of Ceardian and Ailor fables as being a tool of evil, to envelop castles or trap individuals, or just to draw blood. In truth, Lorwick Thistle spread out well before the Cataclysm, transported by slaves, by Altalar, and by general trade. Despite being a harsh plant when allowed to go wild, it can still grow beautiful flowers, and these were desired to some extent by others. As a result, the plant now exists in multiple locations across Aloria, often growing in manicured surroundings but sometimes going wild, either on purpose, accident, or simply because it grows in the wild.
Lorwick Thistles are huge weeds that can reach eight feet tall with 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, lavender-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 lavender-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
Lorwick Thistle has several abilities, though only one real use. 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 substance cannot be processed into anything usable as a poison, and remains simply a natural deterrent.
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 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, and 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.