|Official Name||Yuntia Cactus|
|Common Name||Cat’s Paw Cactus, Catclaw Cactus|
|Common Use||Food, Medicinal|
The Yuntia Cactus is a padded cactus native to Ithania's desert. The yellow flowers of this cactus can be used to brew refreshing teas and medicinal infusions that help remove impurities from the lungs and respiratory tracts. The cactus is also considered an icon of ancient Varran culture, and as such holds great relevance to the present-day Varran who wish to reclaim their identity. Other Ithanian and Daendroque people may also use the cactus as a vegetable food source. Yuntia Cacti are highly adaptable succulents, and in the present day have spread to cooler climates abroad.
The Yuntia Cactus is found in the northern fringe of the Ithanian desert where the ever-changing sand dunes withdraw and the arid region becomes more earthy and stable. Wild Yuntias can be found sporadically in fields across the edge of the desert. Records of the cactus have been recovered as far back in what little remains of the Varran Empire, though these don’t hold much information other than proof that the cactus had indeed existed.
Yuntia flowers are the main ingredient in Yuntia tea, a beverage that holds a place in history for its minor but iconic role in the Varran-Nelfin conflict. Some scholars believe Yuntia tea originated in the ancient Varran Empire before it was wiped out by the Elves. This theory purports that the Elves then stole credit for the tea in another one of their numerous attempts to stamp out Varran culture and history. Obscure references indicate that the original Varran tea was far more pleasing than the Elves’ version; a drink that bubbles, and was sweeter than nectar to the point of addiction. In present time, Varrans have made attempts to recreate this tea as part of a cultural reclamation, though whether or not this tea will ever resemble the original is unknown. Whether or not they succeed, Yuntia tea has become a symbolic icon of Varran pride and culture.
Other than tea, the Yuntia Cactus is also grown for medicine and as a vegetable foodsource. Yuntia tincture is considered a necessity for crossing deserts due to its ability to help clear the respiratory system of dust and sand and soothe the throat and nose from harsh, scorching winds. Ithanian and Daendroque populations use the cactus pads as an ingredient in salads, soups, and side dishes where it has a mild flavor similar to celery with a softer texture. The cactus’ splendid flowers and unique shape has given it a place among Ithanian artisans who decorate clothing, pottery, and other goods with cat paw cactus designs.
The Yuntia Cactus is more adaptable and cold-hardy than other cacti and can survive freezing winters. It has been known to spread to more temperate lands as far as the Regalian Archipelago and even New Ceardia where small populations grows hidden in wild prairies.
The Yuntia cactus is a succulent with large, spiny pads that can grow up to eight inches long. The spines can grow an inch long with one face of a pad containing two to three dozen spines. The cactus earns its nickname, “Cat’s Paw Cactus”, from its tendency to grow new pads three or four at a time, each spaced equally along the top of the parent pad. Yuntia Cacti are shrub-like, and usually grow no taller than five feet in height.
The cactus pads boast a lime-green hue, whereas Yuntia flowers have a golden-yellow color with a deep red emanating from the center. These flowers bloom half as big as a pad, with each pad able to sprout up to half a dozen flowers. The cactus remains green and lively all year long in warm climates; but in temperate climates with freezing winters, the cactus deflates and turns a darker, purple color. In the following spring, however, the cactus regenerates, coming back both green and healthy.
Uses and Abilities
Yuntia flowers can be seeped in water and mixed with honey and other spices such as Mint or Dragonflower to produce Yuntia tea. It usually takes one flower for every cup of water to achieve enough flavor. The tea has a sweet, citrusy flavor. It is most notable for giving a heavy mouthfeel, as if drinking thick, viscous honey despite its watery appearance.
For use as a medicinal tincture, the flower is mixed with Vocadine and other alchemical ingredients to purify and extract its lung-cleansing fluids. Yuntia extract produces a stinging sensation in the throat and nose when consumed, alleviating nasal congestion and sore throats, and helping to remove foreign particles from the lungs, nose, and windpipe. It also has a very minor effect of lessening the inhaled effects of other concoctions such as Obscura or Trembling Smoke, though the tincture must be taken beforehand to do so. Yuntia tea also harbors these effects, though it is far less potent due to being more diluted.
- Among the scarce Varran artifacts found in the Ithanian deserts, some of the most notable include fragments of glass bottles engraved with the image of a Yuntia cactus.
- To this day, Nelfin and Varran still fight over credit for making Yuntia tea.
- Among Varrans, one popular ingredient for Yuntia tea is catmint.