Fefferberry

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Also known as: Bull's Bush, Pizzle Bush, and Andelphracia's Bush.

Identification and Field Marks

The fefferberry is a rambling bramble of a bush in the What-Is-That-Awful-Smell family which grows in almost every nook and cranny of Ghyll. There are a number of varieties of fefferberry, only some of which are useful (see below). All varieties, however, share some similar traits. For instance, the stalks of all fefferberry bushes are a deep, bloody red with a fine network of pale blue veins, and have the scrambling habit of throwing off dense arching stems carrying short curved very sharp spines, the branches rooting from the node tip when they reach the ground. It has palmate leaves of three to five leaflets which are a rich emerald green and have white veins that form a lightning-like pattern. The fefferberry flowers are generally white or pink with the faintest of blue and red tracings through them. The luminous fefferberries glow from within, thanks to the unusually strong theoalchemical properties of their seeds.

Of special note is the terrible smell which rotting fefferberries make. They have been compared to rotting flesh, in particular the rotting flesh left over from making Sarfelogian Mountain Oysters from poor, unsuspecting bulls. It is this peculiarity that gives the fefferberry bush some of its more unfortunate nicknames.

Bloom Period

Fefferberries can be found in bloom by early Darwina, and their blooming is often celebrated as a rite of Spring. The flowers fall off in late Fusil resulting in a luminous blue fruit, the fefferberries themselves, which ripen to perfection by early Ikk. Fefferberry bushes grow almost constantly, however, no matter the season.

Similar Species

Fefferberries are not to be confused with "flufferberries", which are similar, but do not glow and are furred. Nor should they be confused with "efferberries", which are quite black and make a rather strong turpentine when fermented into "efferberry wine", which can cause blindness when ingested.

Habitat

Though fefferberry bushes may be found almost anywhere in Ghyll, they favor marshy, damp land and other places where burnflies might be found. It has been theorized that burnflies get their "burn" from ingesting fefferberry seeds, hence the connection between their relative locations. Fefferberry bushes are quite aggressive and will devour the surrounding countryside if given half a chance. In fact, it has been said that the Evesque Valley was once entirely swallowed by one giant fefferberry bush and it was only the Smallwood Family's discovery of the Mute Chukarandos, whose voracious consumption includes the fefferberry bush, which saved the Valley.

Economic Importance

The fefferberry is so much a part of life on Ghyll that both the Cranee Historical Society and the Carsokian clan have incorporated it into their respective crests. Besides being a major ingredient in Andelphracian Lights, fefferberries are also used to produce a potent wine which is quite popular with tourists to the Evesque Valley region. The seeds are prized not only for their illuminative properties, but also for their ritual use by assorted occultologists, though their exact use in those rituals are a closely guarded secret. The prize fefferberry, as judged at the Calends Gala, is used to determine the mass of 1 gyup and is the standard against which a gyup is determined until the next Calends Gala.

Fefferberries are also the critical ingredient in fefferberry scones, which go quite nicely with your Umlaut Tea. In fact, Mother Crank's Patented Fefferberry Scones are the perfect companion to tea of any sort. Through much trial and tribulation, not to mention skullduggery and subterfuge, included is the Very Secret Recipe for Mother Crank's Patented Fefferberry Scones:

Yield: 8 servings

2 Larder Buckets Flour2 Kitchen Scoops Sugar
2 Eggs, well beaten1 1/2 Table Scoops Salt
1 Kitchen Scoop Baking powder 2 Kitchen Scoops Butter
Cold water1/4 Larder Bucket dried fefferberries

Sift flour, measure, and sift with baking powder, salt, and sugar. Rub in butter with tips of fingers or cut in with 2 spatulas. Add eggs and sufficient water to make a soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured board and pat into sheet 1 inch thick. Cut into rounds or squares. Fold over double and brush with milk. Place on slightly oiled baking sheet. Dust with sugar and bake in hot oven for about 15 minutes.

Note: For those of you unfamiliar with kitchen measures, a Kitchen Scoop is equal to three Table Scoops and, roughly, 1/10th of a Larder Bucket, or about 3/4 of a Wurp.

Citations: Andelphracian Lights, Theoalchemy, Umlaut Tea.

--Doctor Phineas Crank 15:34, 19 Oct 2004 (EDT)

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