The Shattered Ring
The Pehuwe tree is found only on Sekothai and grows in small stands on the shorelines of low-lying islands near the world’s equator. The tree grows very tall, with flowers that have a pleasant aroma not unlike peanut butter. The wood of the Pehuwe tree is sometimes used for shipbuilding, but it is notable primarily for the immense size of the nuts it grows. The Pehuwe nut has been known to grow big enough for the hard shell to be used as a rudimentary shelter, although most only reach about half that size. The flesh of the nut itself is edible and is a significant part of some Sekothai dishes, although the awkward size and weight of the nut makes harvesting a challenging matter and consequently it is considered a delicacy.
The Pehuwe nut is also notable as a nautical hazard at the latitude it favours, as its weight means it has a tendency to float unseen just beneath the surface of the ocean. Locals have developed forms of sonar designed specifically to detect the extraordinarily heavy nut and avoid risking it tearing a hole in the lightweight hulls that Sekothai sailors favour.
Harvesting the Pehuwe nut is traditionally a matter of waiting until one falls and catching it in tough netting suspended around the base of the tree. Such is the danger posed by the falling nuts that farmers going to retrieve a fallen nut carry a hard shield above their heads and move as quickly as possible. Falling nuts are a perennial health hazard to unwary visitors to the islands, and a frequent sight on Pehuwe-growing islands is a sign on the shore reading “Beware the Nuts!”.
The Pehuwe tree is not native to Sekothai, but is not found anywhere else in the cluster. It is believed to have been a genetically modified import from elsewhere that has adapted rather oddly to the conditions on Sekothai, resulting in the bizarre and oversized nut.