The Price is Right:
I think now that I've read of it that the 'ponga fern' of N.Z. It may be confusing to enough people that I will rename the fictional 'ponga reed'. Also some clerical and thematic issues are hopefully resolved here from the initial submission. 'Pinong' as I've discovered is a Laotian word meaning 'a sense of brotherhood' (www.wildflowers.org).
by Zak Kneebone
Common name: Pinong Reed
Regional name: Pinong
Habitat: Bogs and swamp.
Temp Zone: Temperate to Tropical.
Size: 40 feet by 1-1/2 inch.
Reproduction: Seeds or rhysome.
Description: The pinong consists of two thin, long leaves 1 to 1-1/2inches wide and upto 40 feet long each. They are also very thin, 1/16inch deep. When wet it is olive-green and woody yet bendable with a charachteristic glossiness. With light lengthwise friction it emits a squeak as smooth, wet surfaces often do.
The twin leaves are anchored into the floor with a stalk 1/8 inch round by roots which stretch 4 feet deep into the silt of a typical swamp. The leaves rise to float on the surface water. This fact along with the ability to spread by rhysomes on the roots means the pinong covers vast areas. After shifting for months or years by current and winds these masses tangle into glades.
Small creatures have little trouble navigating, though swamprat skeletons are often found in or nearby a glade. Large creatures can be tangled quite easily in the grass. Since this usually only happens near the surface a man will usually escape unless isolated, weak or in a position compromised to gaining breath. The reed is broken with moderate effort and can be cut away quite easily.
When pinong dries in the sun it turns beige and hardens into shape. It is then woody but slightly brittle and can layer itself into small, unsafe temporary landbriges when rain is seldom. It takes four days for the reed to cure in this manner. When again is dampened, it then dissolves completely with three months of submergence in water. When in the hardened state it can be waterproofed with a coating of wax or similar substances. It is very useful for craft wickerwork. Some lizardfolk towns contain entire neighborhoods of layered pinong reeds which are anchored down to the annual fresh leaves.
The Pinong is non-poisonous although tough to chew. It can be made soft enough for general consumption by boiling for an hour. It has a flavor and texture very similar to bamboo chutes. It is eaten raw by some rodents and fish.