Design Blog: Trapper’s Ivy, Toxicodendron laqueusinsidiantis

Physical Description: This rather inconspicuous shrub grows to about 7 feet (2.1 meters) tall and about 12 feet (3.6 meters) wide. Trapper’s Ivy grows an extremely thick woody trunk made to withstand stresses. Its light green vines and soft oval leaves provide an extremely welcoming environment for foraging animals. Deep within the shrub small bright blue, berries grow, these berries are extremely sweet and give off an irresistible scent. These berries are surrounded by several hidden snares of ivy, each snare varies in size, smaller snares are generally found deeper within the plant. Each snare is laced with several sharp recurved thorns. Deep within the shrub, the leaves are broad and obscuring all vision and give off an extremely sweet smell. These shrubs grown in large colonies with a massive dense “queen” shrub in the center.

Diet: The sweet smells, delicious berries, and soft leaves of this plant hide a dark secret. This plant is carnivorous. It lures various animals and adventurers in with the promise of sweet food. When an animal enters the shrub, its size determines the method of capture. A small animal such as a mouse or bird gets grabbed by a single snare, the thorns work to both hold the struggling animal as well as inject it with a powerful toxin. The snaring vine contracts pulling the animal towards the center of the shrub. When it is pulled into the center, the large internal leaves close around it and begin to release strong digestive enzymes. The decomposing animal provides nutrients to the plant and helps it grow in poor soils. Larger animals are caught in a slightly different way. When a large animal is snared it begins to struggle until it stumbles onto another snare when this happens the first snare releases and the cycle continues until the animal is brought to the “Queen” bush. Once this happens the process is very similar to when a small animal is caught. When the Queen shrub digest the animal it will send nutrients to all other shrubs in the colony through a complex network of pale interconnected roots.

Ecology: Trapper’s Ivy grows in many places through the Americas, although it is commonly found where other plants can not readily grow such as in areas with poor soil and low levels of sunlight. They are an important predator in most regions hunting animals many others can not, and providing nutrients to otherwise poor soils. They have a symbiotic relationship with the Baumspringer, the plant providing shelter and food and the animal cleaning the plant and keeping it pest-free.

Lifecycle: Trapper’s ivy very rarely naturally propagates, every 10 years every Queen will produce extremely large, delicate, and beautiful gold and silver striped flowers. The flowers are incredibly pleasant-smelling and gently pulse with benign magic causing the flower to glow beautifully in the night. Once pollinated the flower will slowly shrink before becoming a large ball of soft silk-like threads. When the seeds mature they are attached to a thread and sent upon the wind to settle new lands. The Queen takes 45 years to achieve full size, a fully mature grove can take 250 years to grow. When burned the queen will produce a small amount of magic and anti-flammable oils to coat its trunk and roots. When the fire is out it will attempt to regrow.

Relationship with humans: Most settlements actively purge existing Trapper’s ivy groves. Destroying the Queen’s trunk and roots when the burn is over. Some certain people have learned quite a bit of money can be made by harvesting their delicious berries, their beautiful flowers, and their soft silk. Usually, druids and others more connected with nature take up these jobs. The berries can fetch a decent price and are considered a great desert in most places. The flowers are pricey among the most expensive you can purchase (for non-magical means) often gifted to a loved one as a sign of love and adoration. The silk is an extremely expensive commodity with Trapper’s ivy silk, called Vilaasita. This material is collected by a complex process of magic and machinery, separating the delicate silk from the seeds. The silk is sewn into extremely soft and luxurious clothing items for the exorbitantly rich and powerful. The silk is prized for its rarity, softness, shine, exquisite natural colors, and its ability to retain magic and be enchanted.

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