Monday, October 5, 2015

Flora et Fauna: Beggar's Purse

In the mountains of Evandar, there is a plant that blooms in the late autumn a few weeks before the first snows. It is a small plant that has little, if any, medicinal qualities. There are some who claim that carrying sprigs of it will bring good luck. Others say that it will bring financial ruin. Beggar's Purse is so named for the blossom that looks roughly like an empty bag. The blooms are a cream color and they smell musky.

It has broad leaves that grow in a spiral about the stem. During the warmer months, Beggar's Purse is easily confused with broad leaf Plantain. These earlier season leaves are smooth. As the summer wanes, however, Beggar's Purse puts out a second set of leaves. These have a fine down over them. After a minimum of three hard frosts, Beggar's Purse puts up a stem with its bloom. The bloom only lasts for a day. The plant, however, will have multiple blooms in succession on the stalk. It dies back once the leaves are covered.

Beggar's Purse is edible but it tastes very bitter. Cooking it twice over takes some of the bitterness out, but it is impossible to completely eliminate it. Beggar's Purse propagates by way of runners. It is possible to start a plant off of a cutting, but only if it is taken in early spring.

Edited Oct. 17,2017 to add this illustration.

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