The leng'eni isa is one of the most widespread fruits on Atrusius. The name is from the Kenyu language, and literally means "cold's sweet children". This is the nutrient bearing fruit of the leng'eni (lit. "cold's children"), and is generally pear or tear-drop shaped. Its structure is most comparable to the coconut of earth, though it grows year round and in most temperate and tropical climates. The name was allegedly given because it is the only tree on Atrusius which bears fruit in both the Dry and Winter seasons of much of the world, and thus was the fruit that most easily allowed the hunter gatherers to settle down with a stable food supply.
The Leng'eni TreeThe leng'eni is generally a three-branching tree, though the older it grows, the more core branches and offshoot branches it grows. In general the tree and its branches are slightly crooked in the middle, causing the tree to look lopsided. Some farmers who cultivate the leng'eni use stakes and rope to keep the main trunk straight, in order to better make use of their regular plots of land. The three primary branches usually begin growing within five to ten years, based on the soil and weather conditions prevalent during the plant's early life. The tree is an evergreen, however it looks like a deciduous plant and the leaves do fall off naturally. As soon as a leaf, or even one of the isa is removed, the tree begins to grow a replacement.
The Leng'eni LeafThe leaves of the leng'eni are also used agriculturally and commercially in several roles. One of their primary roles is to be gathered as a base for fertilizer when they fall off the tree naturally. Lower hanging leaves are often gathered for their uses in herbal medicine, teas, and as a base materials for fiber-papers, while the higher leaves are left to grow until they fall. A cultivated leng'eni leaf can reach as great as 16 inches from foot to head and 10 inches across at its widest point. Fallen leaves are gathered, then sorted based on their quality into suitable roles. Thickness, firmness, and stability are the primary roles, though scent, color and size are also considered. The highest quality leaves are ultimately used in medicine and cooking, while medium quality leaves may be used for cooking, kahfei, or paper. The lowest quality leaves are sometimes used for paper, but are primarily retained as the basis for fertilizers which are used on a variety of farms.
The Leaf and Winterson
The herb winterson (khirifion) is actually a leaf-stock herb created by either growing a fresh leng'eni leaf, or grafting a leaf onto a young herb. Winterson is prized for it's medicinal and cooking uses, and produces many small leaves, compared to the fairly large leaves produced by the mature leng'eni. In recent years, winterson has become more popular for cooking, herbal, and medicinal uses, as it retains all of the benefits in these areas of the mature leng'eni leaf. It is not suitable for a high-grade fertilizer base or for paper and as such, a larger proportion of leng'eni leaves are being used for paper than in previous years.
The Leng'eni Isa
The isa, or fruit (in this case), is not actually the fruit in the traditional sense. The isa of the leng'eni is more like an unfertilized egg than a normal fruit, as it contains all of the nutrients but none of the seeds. The structure of the leng'eni isa consists of a tough, fibrous shell surrounding a very pale yellow fruit meat, containing a thick and creamy juice. There are no seeds within the leng'eni isa, as the tree produces seeds by flowering in the spring. The fruit, then, is one of the most versatile fruits, and comes from the most versatile plant, on all of Atrusius.
The shape ranges from almost spherical on young plants to varying degrees of elliptical shape on young plants, to the teardrop shape most common in colder regions and the pear or gourd-like shape of warmer and tropical regions. The weather to which the tree is most exposed tends to define the shape in which the shell actually forms rather than any genetic determination of shape. The weather also determines the thickness of the meat and the shell, with thicker shells and less meat in cool areas, and thinner shells but more meat in warmer areas.
The Juice of the Isa
The most common use of the plant is to simply break it open and extract all of the juice for use as milk. This is a very sugary type of milk, but is more commonly used on Atrusius than animal milk, which is primarily used only by the Adin (from cows) and the Semerik (from the péaru). The reason that it is more widespread is that the milk of leng'eni isa can be produced cheaply regardless of the weather, and does not spoil unless kept cold. In fact, the leng'eni isa can retain fresh for months from harvest so long as it is not broken open, allowing fresh air to reach the inside. In addition, the fruit will continue to produce milk for about 20 weeks if it is provided sufficient moisture, or until it is brimming full. As there is no way to check how full of milk a particular isa is without causing the meat to spoil, most people buy several and simply save them until needed.
Leng'eni isa milk is full of sugar, some proteins, calcium and phosphates which are beneficial to health, wellness and development. It also contains vitamins A and C, and minerals based on the environment it was grown in.
The Meat of the Isa
The meat is a thick, moisture retaining region inside the shell, which grows to a thickness of about 1/7 the diameter of the body's largest point. As the shell grows thicker, it actually absorbs the outermost layers of the meat, which is why the meatiest isa are also the ones with the thinnest shells. Many of the nutrients are stored inside the meat, including most of the proteins, sugars, Vitamin D and most of the minerals stored within the fruit. The fruit is normally scooped out with a spoon, and often comes out in a pulpy form. The pulp can be pressed to remove much of the remaining milk, and may either be eaten directly or prepared in a variety of ways.
The most popular method of preparing the meat is simply drying it out. Depending on how it is dried and how it is set out to dry, it can either be cake-like and firm, or very light and flaky. When cake-like, it can be mixed into various baking projects, grilled or steamed, or sliced and used as a topping, sort of like cheese. If dried in sheets, it may be powered or crumbled, which produces a flaky product similar to shredded coconut. It may be mixed into baking projects, used as a stabilizer, or even, when powered, as a form of dehydrated milk that can last for years.
Fresh, unpressed, isa meat is sometimes grilled or boiled, and is very chewy and juicy. It has a very sweet and slightly tangy taste, and has a texture similar to pineapple. It can also be mixed into pies, and is often mixed with other fruits when made into a pie. Properly prepared, it is sometimes used as a pudding base, especially by the Peratan and Kenyu. To prepare it as a pudding base, it is usually diced and whisked into a froth before heating it until it reaches a suitable consistency.
Thirdly, the meat is also used, unpressed, to make glue. Isa glue is the most common type of glue on Atrusius, and is created by pressing the meat, breaking it down to a paste, and mixing it with both the extracted milk and the sap of any combination of trees. The process takes about six hours after extracting the meat from a single shell, and can, from one isa, produce as much as four gallons worth of glue, or about one gallon of a thicker paste.
The Shell of the Isa
The shell of the isa is tough and fibrous, and has a number of common uses. It can be used as a container, after removing the meat, for water, milk or other beverages. It can also be cut lengthwise to create cups, which are commonly used by the Hol'tiin and the Gramurn due to the shape of their mouths. The shell can also be used to create a very firm brassiere (the shape is considered by some to be a perfect or ideal shape for breasts), though this is not highly common except among some extremely vain females. It may also be used to create various forms of protective garments by cutting the shell into strips or studs which are glued or otherwise joined together with each other or a fabric. Sometimes, the shell is simply used as kindling for a fire.
Other Uses of the Plant
The leng'eni is also used for wood and the sap is often extracted from old, but healthy, trees which no longer produce as much fruit. The sap is primarily used to create glues and pastes or to attract bees in order to create a beehive. Leng'eni sap is not used to create syrups, though it is sometimes boiled with 2 parts isa milk and one part water as a home remedy for any number of diseases.
The bees from nearby hives are the primary pollinators of the plant, and when pollinated, the flowers wrap their petals around the seed. The seeds are used to produce oil, for lanterns, cooking and polishing metal tools, or to grow more trees, though most seeds produced on farms are not planted. Usually, a new farmer can ask his leng'eni farming neighbors for seeds from their trees in order to get a start, or he can look for seeds at market or from wild leng'eni trees.
When planting seeds, a compost of a full isa as well as leng'eni leaves is often used as a bed, and seeds planted in those conditions do tend to grow much more quickly in their first two or three years. This is a result of the nutrients, used by the tree, which are stored within the isa for times of trouble -- drought, poor soil, or even the introduction of toxins into the environment. It is also for this reason that some isa are always left on the tree, so that it can survive these difficult times should they come.