Worldbuilding Wednesday: Cloud Factory Flora I
I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday again. Time to reveal more about the setting of The Cloud Factory, I guess! Today I’ll share some of the more notable varieties of flora that managed to survive in the valley. There are many other flowers and herbs in this world that can be grown in a greenhouse environment or outside of the valley, but I’ll talk about those later.
By far the most important plant in the valley to its inhabitants, this waterbound flower not only survived the decades of rain from the factory, but flourished. It grows best in still and slow-moving water, and has a very low dependency on UV rays for photosynthesis, so the marshy, overcast environment is well suited for its cultivation. They are also pollinated solely by the sturdy luna bee, which I will discuss in my next worldbuilding entry.
The reason river lilies are so important to the valley residents, and the people of this world in general, is that they have powerful curative properties. River lily petals are the standard ingredient in most medicines, poultices, and salves, stimulating the immune system and promoting healthy cell regeneration. They also have a very light, sweet fragrance, and are sometimes used in perfumes.
River lilies are far less common outside of the valley, only growing in still ponds and along sheltered portions of riverbanks. That being the case, it has played a large part in the survival of the valley’s remaining villages economically, as an export, as well as medically.
Both the flower and lily pad are white in hue. In sunnier environments, the stem, veins, and bases of the petals turn a soft green color, whereas in more overcast climates, these portions of the flower take on a more ashen hue. The intensity of sunlight has no bearing on the effectiveness of the flower, and like aloe plants, they do not have to be processed to provide a benefit to the user.
As its name suggests, watergrass is another aquatic plant. Resembling a reed that unfurls into a broad, blade-like leaf, it grows in marshy terrain and along the banks of most rivers and other freshwater bodies of water. The entire plant is edible, though the tough, stringy stock needs to be boiled or stewed before it can be easily consumed. The leaf portion, however, is fairly supple and can be eaten raw. It is very bitter, like a thick, chewy spinach.
Watergrass grows quickly, not unlike bamboo, but its height caps out between 6 and 8 feet above water level.
Contrary to what its name suggests, marshflower isn’t a flower at all, but a root tuber. The flower its name refers to is actually the radial arrangement of its scrubby above-ground leaves, which are bright red at the center fading out to a dark green. They require wet, but solid ground to grow in, so crops are patchy and scattered where the villagers can find high enough terrain. In the wild, they are often found around the bases of trees and towards the outskirts of the valley, where the incline of the surrounding mountains begin.
The root itself is white-grey with rusty red root hairs, and has the consistency and flavor of a cross between a potato and a daikon raddish. Not the most appetizing of foods, but they’re hearty and nutrient-rich, thus making them the staple of a lot of valley dishes.
These elegant plants are a mystery to most lifelong village folk. Their stems droop heavily with the bud of what would appear to be a flower, but they never bloom in the valley. It is said that they only bloom in the light of the moon which, unlike sun lamps, technicians cannot seem to replicate for a greenhouse environment. On nights when the cloud cover is unusually thin, the buds almost seem to glow.
Moon blossoms aren’t especially edible, but make a cool and airy perfume.