Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Creeping Heartskin

Croceus Pruriocardiotoxicus

A Xenoc plant, which colonises the trunks of trees, preferentially evergreens.  It subdues native plant life, absorbing resins which are toxic to species of Kletterweed.  Whilst the aforementioned toxins do not kill Kletterweed, the hardiest of Xenoc plants, they can subdue growth.  Creeping Heartskin is a hemiparastic plant, analogous to Viscum album or Mistletoe.  Seeds germinate on the branches of susceptible trees, shoots growing along the substrate, some eventually forming a haustorium.

Like all Xenoc plants, the large amounts of pollen released – the phenomenon of ‘blanket pollination’ - obviate the need for insect pollination.  The flowers are small yellow cups that exude large quantities of pollen for a week or more.  These flowers contain unusual forms of carbohydrate which can undergo accelerated fermentation and this characteristic has been often used to manufacture spirits such as Firenshine.  The bittersweet taste of these fermentation products is also the product of the aforementioned carbohydrates.

When contact is made between the shoots or haustorium and human skin, a form of spongiotic dermatitis can occur.  This is a usually relatively harmless form of eczema, although vesiculation is often reported and in some cases, a form of toxic epidermolysis can ensue.  Cardiac toxicity is also one of the more serious sequelae of contact; arrhythmias can occur when antigenic complexes formed in the allergic reaction interfere with the functioning of Purkinje fibres.  For this reason, those who have come into recent contact with the Creeping Heartskin should undergo cardiac monitoring.  Such effects do not occur when contact is made with the blooms of the Creeping Heartskin and the fermented products of these are safe to drink, providing, as with all alcoholic beverages, one does not overindulge.



References



Eventhrall J.  Case series: Croceus Pruriocardiotoxicus and toxic epidermal necrolysis – a rare reaction to skin contact. Xen Med J 2151; 4 (15-20)

Eventhrall J.  Croceus Pruriocardiotoxicus – a review of the pathological effects, their mechanisms and current recommended treatment regimes. Clin Xen Med 2152; 3 (45-71)

©Guy T Martland, 2014

As promised - some stuff relating to the new novel... I wrote this as background to the botany featured in the book.  There are other segments concerning other species, some of which are alluded to above, although I haven't worked out what I want to do with them all yet - maybe some kind of appendix?  Needless to say, my protagonist does, of course, overindulge.

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