Although it may seem otherwise at first glance at the vast expanses of moor and grassland, there really is a fairly diverse array of flora to be found in the region, though seeking it out does perhaps takes some diligence. True enough, on the moors there is little in the way of flora, save for the occasional lonely tree that finds a patch of more nourishing earth to support it. Yet scattered flowering shrubs testify to the fact that even the moors can be coaxed into providing basic essentials if the plant is persistent enough. Willow trees are also quite common where the moors run along the river, sometimes alone or in a few cases in ancient groves that border either side of the river like silent honor guards.
The true diversity of plant life to be found in the region, however, is located within the small patches of forest that interrupt the seemingly endless stretches of heath and prairie. The woodlands in the north are an excellent example, a forest of striking evergreens that nonetheless shelters a number of smaller plants and shrubs, most particularly a species of berry-producing shrub known as Demon Mint. This small shrub is notable for the blue-, red-, and purple-speckled white berries it bears, which when consumed produce an exceedingly strong, minty-spicy sensation as well as a rush of very sweet flavor. When broken open, the fruit inside looks like fine, sparkling, granular, sugar-like snow mixed with the odd red, blue, or purple crystals.
Scattered through the gloom and shadow of Taerek’s forests and wetlands, a wide variety of mushrooms and mosses flourish. While such can be found nestled anywhere there is decay, many of the region’s mushrooms tend to grow quickly in circles, lines, or spiral patterns when exposed to magical energy, with a single stool multiplying and sprouting into dozens within mere hours of exposure to magic from the conjuration, divination, enchantment, and transmutation schools. Such mushrooms tend to grow in spiral or circular patterns in response to spells which cover an area, form into straight lines along the path made by a precision spell such as magic missile, and in a combination of the two general growth patterns when spells that affect an area are cast well away from the caster.
Its countryside is the very definition of pastoral beauty. Its woodlands feature abundant alder, ash, black oak, chestnut, and royal ferns, while the underbrush and meadows are awash in broomrape, flax, glasswort, milkwort, and vetch. The native orchids exhibit a striking array of color and forms, normally a rarity in such temperate lands. The wild forests are home to an even wider array of trees and shrubs, including pine, beech, poplar, evergreen oak, white oak, hazelnut, rowan, yew, juniper, birch, and spruce. The fragrances of wild almond, apricot, plum, apple, and cherry frequently assault the senses as the woods are in near-perpetual bloom. Lavender and vanilla are ubiquitous in the rocky meadows, where one also finds scattered box, juniper, shadberry, and wild thyme. Its open areas frequently sport patchy growths of thistle, heather, and gorse, and bracken appears throughout the domain. In addition to bracken, forest undergrowth includes sedge, mistletoe, poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, nightshade, monk’s hood, holly, and a variety of briars, ferns, mosses, mushrooms, and other fungi, and poisonous herbs. Slime molds are common in the damp forest floors and may even grow to monstrous proportions.
The dominant plant species in the region, however, are its grasses and wild grains, including scattered patches of wheat, barley, rye, millet, and hops, which cover the plains from east to west. Besides the grasses, the plains are home to numerous varieties of wildflower, including aster, spurge, bellflowers, daffodils, dandelions, sunflowers, morning glories and so on in a seemingly endless parade. A variety of shrubs and bushes cover the landscape as well, and in the drier regions cacti thrive. The windstinger is a particularly dangerous form of cactus, as it secretes paralytic venom from its spines and needles, which can be carried along during violent windstorms. This venom is not fatal by itself, but predators have learned to frequent regions where patches of windstinger are known to grow in hopes of catching a helpless meal, and have built up a resistance to the ill effects of this poison.
Another notable plant, found in the pond scum that infests Diarfell Lake and its environs, including several of the region’s waterways, is a form of blood red algae known as Vampyre Tears. Seemingly imbued with positive energy, with a flavor reminiscent of watermelon, when consumed, it temporarily enhances a creature’s metabolism, significantly hastening the healing process and slowing the visible signs of aging. Not all of its effects are beneficial, however. This increased metabolism leads to an increase in appetite and nervous energy, as well as photosensitivity and a vulnerability to sunlight which can lead to significant burns and blisters. In addition, should a creature’s natural defenses be significantly weakened, the algae can overpower its metabolism to disastrous results. The algae loses its unusual properties after a day or so, however, if removed from the lake region.
The forests are primarily coniferous, dotted with robust stands of hardwoods. Throughout the year, pines, larches, and silver furs blanket the woodlands in a mantle of verdant finery. Oak, beech, and walnut can also be found in the low areas of the hill country. The plains and heath, meanwhile, feature a plethora of windblown herbs such as heather, broom, loosestrife, sedge, and mayweed, as well as sparse juniper, black alder, willow, and bog birch.
In addition to more mundane flora, including the typical hazards of brambles and poisonous plants, Taerek is home to a number of unusual predatory plants. Of particular note are the dragonleaf trees, magical oak trees with dragon-headed leaves that spit forth gouts of dragon’s breath. Lashweeds, crawling ivy, and assassin vines are also common in Taerek. Occasional algoids and shambling mounds, hungry for the flesh and blood of living creatures that cross their path, can be found in and around The Lake of Red Tears and the Twice-Bitten Swamp.