Disaster Fruit (5e PlantFungi)
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|“||There are many foods that strangely are extremely helpful when we need them most. Unfortunately, there's never enough of them.||”|
|—Greebles Changlra, environmental researcher|
|Photo credit from this article|
With black skin and wrinkly looking exterior, these fruits certainly look like disasters off the vine. They are known for sometimes growing fuzzy mold on them rather quickly, making them extremely unappetizing to the eye. The tree itself appears to be a ficus, but an abnormal one. This tree grows cherry-like bunches of these disaster fruits, which, for a long time, were thought to be entirely inedible. It turns out the fruit skin actually protects the interior flesh from all rot, and the innards are very nutritious. One can easily remove a moldy skin and enjoy the fruit. This plant is not common, believed to grow out of only 1 of every 100,000 ficus plants, and only after about 100 years or so.
Originally, the disaster fruit was seen as nature's trash. People would take the fruit and give it to their enemies as a sign of enmity. How its edibility became discovered was when a harsh famine hit a local village. With their cattle mere bones and their crops failing from drought, the people noticed this hardy tree that continued to grow these strange wrinkly fruits. This village was saved by the disaster fruit, which survived the drought and produced enough food for the people until a rainy season finally came.
A similar story about the plant's hardiness comes from a flooded region, where the rains washed away any attempts to plant seeds, and drowned the agricultural fields. But this disaster plant seems able to withstand even this meteorological extreme. The disaster fruit is now a symbol of tenacity in some places, where it is a valued plant. Researchers theorize that this tree can probably grow even through something like a fire or blizzard, making it perfect for surviving a myriad of disasters.
Due to its unnatural hardiness, the disaster fruit can survive in plenty of environments. However, its distribution so far has been limited to extremes of location rather than temperate areas. One is, for example, strangely more likely to find one of these plants in a desert than in woodland. What is also strange is that the plant does not have any known creatures which partake of its fruit other than humans, who only recently discovered its edibility 500 or so years ago. Attempts to grow this fruit in abundance have resulted in many normal ficus trees, and few disaster fruits. It is unclear how they just appear to grow in some areas of extreme isolation, without any means of pollination.
Growth and Harvest
Disaster fruit trees only produce fruit after the tree has grown significantly and is over 100 years of age. By then, the tree should be around 20 feet tall. The tree does not grow any flowers, instead fruiting right away. These fruits take around a year to reach their full size, which is about half the length of a finger. No matter the season, the tree's life cycles seem uninterrupted. Its fruits, like the tree, are impervious to most forms of extreme weather and temperature. It can be cut down, however, and many people do this to use its wood and fashion fireproof houses. Lightning can also effectively kill it, though it will not set it aflame. Since it cannot be grown effectively to have a steady supply, there is no official harvest time for it. People just pluck their fruits like one might with apples.
The entirety of the disaster fruit is edible. The skin is just often removed since it tends to trap impurities like rot and mold. What is interesting is that the thicker parts of the tree have nutrition deep under the bark level. Once a sufficient amount of the exterior is stripped off, the core, with the tree rings, is like a fibrous yucca. It can be eaten raw, though it is tiresome sine it requires a lot of chewing. Infants without sufficient digestive development, as well as people with bad digestion, are not recommended to eat it raw. It can be boiled to create a porridge-like textured mixture. The fruits can be eaten raw or prepared as toppings, similar to raisins. Despite their desiccated look, these fruits actually provide a decent amount of liquid for the consumer.
Eating only 5 of their fruits, which is only about 1 ounce of weight, fulfills a Medium sized creature's food and drink requirement for the day. The core provides similar nutrition. Eating the core of the tree obviously depletes the plant's health.
Other Common Uses
The leaves of the disaster plant are known to have minor restorative properties. They are commonly rubbed on rashes or minor burns to alleviate the affliction. The oil extracted from many leaves can be used in a healing potion. As mentioned before, the tree's wood can be used to construct fireproof structures. The bark can shingled and layered onto wooden armor to provide mild fire resistance as well.
The disaster fruit's primary product is, of course, its fruit. The other aforementioned uses result in more niche items due to the issue of availability. The wooden armor is used commonly by those of druidic covens, and it is considered a high-quality product in their circles. Due to the sheer amount of labor and material needed to produce the healing potions, the leaves are more often harvested and dried to be sold as "healing tea."
Disaster Fruit Traits
An unnaturally hardy plant that is perfect for when disaster strikes
Age. Disaster fruit trees live well over 100 years. They usually begin to wilt at around 500 years of life. Due to the need for their materials, few actually live that long before they are stripped bare.
Size. Disaster fruit trees grow to be around 20 feet tall, and around the same in width, with many branches, almost like a gigantic bush. They are Large sized.
Resistance. The disaster fruit tree is resistant to fire, cold, and poison damage.
Immune. The disaster fruit tree is immune to diseases.
Hardy. The disaster fruit tree is immune to the effects of Extreme Cold and Heat, as detailed on page 110 of the DMG.
Random Height and Weight
|20′ 0''||+2d8||980 lb.||× (1d8) lb.|
*Height = base height + height modifier
In a game, the disaster fruit is a handy device for DMs to grant clemency to players who find themselves in harsh and unforgiving environments on the verge of starvation and thirst. Due to the plant's seemingly random locations of growth, it would not be unrealistic for it to be in a dungeon maze in a scorching desert, or a desert island.