The Undertoe Herb is a
lanky plant with lobed leaves and a thin form. It most frequently sprouts near
the base of trees, preferring pines and other evergreen trees. For this reason,
it can most commonly be found in Santhariaís
wooded areas, be they larger forests or small copses dotting the countryside.
The plant has shallow roots and usually a slightly minty scent. The small
berries are often used in dyes, whilst the leaves are most commonly used in the
treatment of foot odour problems.
The Undertoe Herb rarely grows higher than a grown manís knee,
but appears taller because of its delicate stem and apparently over-sized
leaves, which grow on average to a
palmspan in length. The
leaves are a bright, summer-green in all seasons, even in early winter before
the snow chokes them out. They are lobe-shaped, being wider at the ends that at
the base where they are connected to the sturdy stem. The leaves drape a little,
generally being too large to stay stiff and erect. The leaves are thin but not
The Undertoe Herb generally has but one firm stalk; branches donít often diverge
from the solid stem. When they do, they are short and brief, usually diverging
for the purpose of budding additional flowers when late spring is beginning to
warm into summer.
The flowers of the Undertoe Herb are small and white, dainty and star-shaped.
They are hardly more than a
nailsbreadth or two in length, and one plant will usually only produce four
or five flowers; however, Undertoe tend to grow in small groups of three or
four, and create a lovely scene with their white flowers blossoming together in
floral camaraderie. The Undertoe blossoms for a few weeks until finally falling
away in mid-summer.
The base of the flower swells, then furcates, usually into three or four smaller
bulbs. These continue to swell and deepen into a deep blue. The berries rarely
find their way into a pie or cake, being a bit sour, but tend to be preferred by
many woodland creatures, including deer, rabbits, and birds. Such creatures will
carry the Undertoe berry to other places in the forest to sprout.
The Undertoe Herb grows in many forests throughout mid-Sarvonia.
It prefers slightly colder climes where evergreen forests are more common, and
can therefore be found in forests such as the
Thaelon, and Bolder Forest. It can rarely be
found farther south than the
Goltherlon Forest. In addition to the larger forests, it will commonly
occupy small wooded areas, so long as it is shaded and wooded enough.
The Undertoe seems to prefer growing at the base of evergreen trees for reasons
yet unknown. In some cases it has been known to grow at the base of a wooden
house built of evergreen trees. Its roots are shallow and so do not disturb the
trees around which it grows. As it is a fairly common herb, it is not often
found in gardens.
The Undertoe Herb has a couple of common uses. The first, and most well-known
(particularly among the sartorial or painter community) is as a dye or paint. It
is very popular among Caltharian
weavers and dyers. The deep blue berries are often crushed and treated to make a
bright blue colour. Because of the nature of the berries, the dye or paint it
creates can be easily mixed with others to create other colours, and it is
therefore often used in the creation of purple and (particularly) green dyes and
paints. However, it must be treated thoroughly or its longevity will suffer. The
best quality dyes created out of the Undertoe are created by the
Caltharians and occasionally
exported to other dyers as far south as
The Undertoe leaf has a pleasantly minty scent and is often used in the
treatment of foot odour. Many herbalists will crush the leaves by mortar and
pestle, combine them with alcohol and/or vinegar, and work them into a paste
that can be spread on the inside of the shoe or directly on to the foot to
decrease the potency of the smell. This method is usually more effective and
Like many plants, the Undertoe Herb starts life as a little seed, usually
deposited with a number of other Undertoe seeds in a fertile collection of dung,
preferably at the base of some tall and sturdy evergreen tree. It will sprout
little roots, then a little stem and leaves, usually when spring is just shaking
off winter. It will grow at a moderate but respectable pace, enjoy the season,
growing taller and taller as it soaks up spring rains.
As spring is preparing for repose and summer is peacefully waking, the Undertoe
begins to effloresce, its white flower blossoming in the lazy summer shade of
the forests. It may attract a malise or
butterfly or two, but the flower seems perfectly content to wave its little head
in the zephyrs strolling through the thickets. When summerís youth has gone, the
flower will be gone, too, but leave the beginnings of a berry in its wake.
And the single berry will turn to two or three or four, and molt out of its
greenish hue, darkening until it ripens to a deep blue. Its deep colour flirts
and coaxes the forest creatures to dine, and deer and rabbits may come to nibble
at the small berries, or a little bird may come to gobble them up. Carried in
this manner, the berryís seeds will find home in another part of the wood, where
it will sprout come spring.
Autumn will come and go without much change to the Undertoe, but winter will
quietly steal it away, though it may rise again when the snow melts at last.