The mana weed is a hardy plant most commonly found on the dry and hot plains around Ankarra and northwards into the Wastelands. It forms into a roughly ball shaped mass of small branches and spiny leaves that once full summer comes, dries up and breaks free of the taproot. While still attached, the plant has a bright green color, produces small flowers of assorted colors, and later a multitude of peppercorn sized seeds.
The Ankarran Thistle, or the Magewort plant is a remnant of the Old World and the heights of magical experimentation that were attained in that golden time. During the heyday of the Old World, there were two pressing concerns in the realm of magic; depletion and corruption.
Magic resources, essence and nodes were all being exploited at a level never before reached. Free reserves of essence were all but gone during that time, and a variety of techniques emerged to yield more essence to fuel the demanding apetite of the Empire. In the enlightened Kingdoms of Calcobrina, geomancy took on a whole new light as cities were chartered to create their own nodes from human interaction and enviromental conditions. The folk of the Midlands, then the Kingdom of Lomar and Stratia practiced thaumaturgic conservation. A brief attempt was made for artificially generated essence though this was abandoned after the painfull and spectacular failure of the Kuumi Baru Mana Turbine. Reclamation of tainted and polluted essence and regions was explored by a cabal of sorcerers from the fortress city of Ankarrum.
The Mages found that there were vast fields of untapped nodes and ley lines that were only avoided due to the sickening taint of the essence there. Necrotic and infernal contaminants rendered these areas as blighted, corrupted, and as poisonous dens of corruption, evil, and monsters. These areas cuold be reclaimed through manual labor and thaumaturgic purification, but such efforts were long term in planning, required significant labor, and were expensive. Instead, a quic fix, or a cheap fix was required.
The Ankarran Thistle, a innocuous and seemingly nuisance plant was chosen for the task, mostly for it’s hardy disposition, tolerance to salt and the fact that if the mages seriously messed something up no one would miss the thistle. The plant’s nigh immortal taproot absorbed not only water and minerals from the soil but it also took in the poison and taints from the ambient magic flows as well. While a single plant has almost no impact on a tainted field, should hundreds or even thousands grow the local essence is eventually cleansed of taint. Once the plant breaks free from the root to tumble away, the seeds are scattered and the taint contained in the plant is left in the open to be dried up and eradicated by the purifying power of sun, wind, and rain.
Too Little, Too Late
The thistle was a great success for the short time that it was used. Several thousand square miles were recovered and decontaminated before the onset of the Nightmare War. While the Empire died, and the legacy of the Old World was consumed in horror and flame, the Mana Weed survived and for the next thousand years soldiered mindlessly on. The Wastelands and the taint contained within have been slowly at war with the mana weeds as well as with the Cult of Terat and other forces that have sought to contain it and destroy it. Of the powers opposing the growth of the Wastelands, the humble mana weed has done the most to stop and in more than half of the areas where the plant is present, reverse it.