Gotkotha (aka Ghost Celery) is a tall biennial herb native to temperate and subarctic regions of the northern empire, reaching as far north as the Wall. They grow to one to two zhàng tall, with large globular compound umbels of small, numerous, yellowish-white or greenish-white flowers. During its first year it only grows leaves, but during its second year its fluted stem can reach a height of two zhàng. Its large leaves are composed of numerous small serrated leaflets, divided into three principal groups, each of which is subdivided into three secondary groups, each one of which is again composed of three tertiary subgroups. The flowers, which invariably blossom on Midsummer's Day, bear pale yellow, oblong fruits precisely 90 days later. Gotkotha only grows in damp soil, principally near rivers or other open water.
Gotkotha has been grown as a vegetable and medicinal plant for approximately a thousand years. Legend has it that the first to discover its medicinal properties was the Herbalist Emperor Lo Wen.
A flute-like instrument with a clarinet-like sound can be made of its hollow stem.
It is reported that northern barbarians use gotkotha to flavor reindeer milk. Civilized people use its intriguing aroma, reminiscent of a blend of musk and juniper, to flavor liqueurs or distilled spirits, omelettes and trout, and as jam. Even the roots are fragrant, but the seeds are the most prized for their most delicate aroma.
Gotkotha roots are nutritious and toothsome if unprepossessing in appearance, but crystallized strips of young gotkotha stems and midribs are bright green in color and are sold as distinctive and savory cake decoration and may also be enjoyed on their own. The tender new leaves are eaten as tempura in spring festivals in the Qin Chao Steppes.
Chewing on gotkotha stems or drinking tea brewed from them will have an anesthetic effect, but will also temporarily strengthen resistance to infectious disease. Dried gotkotha leaves can be used as a potent incense, but moderation is advised, as inhaled dosages can be hard to control and gotkotha is prone to yang-biased imbalance. Gotkotha roots are naturally not as yin-deficient as the rest of the plant, and as such have the greatest all-round medicinal utility of any part of the plant.
In cultivation, gotkotha is susceptible to the larvae of lime-speckled gray moths.