Panaxea (aka golden woolly chicken tree) is a tropical tree fern of limited distribution, usually two to five bu in height with a diameter of nearly one bu. Its trunk is made of stiff hard fibers surrounding a starchy pith in the center, with glistening, lustrous green fronds when seen from overhead, but a pale, powdery appearance with yellow midribs when viewed from below. The fronds grow to as long as three bu. Stems are covered in red or black bristles. The fronds are singularly divided but divide at the end where the spores form. Its only natural habitat is among the dripping trees and stream gullies of the rain forests on the windward volcanic slopes at the extreme southern end of Iron Mountain. Panaxea is surprisingly tolerant of cold winters, but absolutely requires a wet environment year-round.
Panaxea reproduces through the use of spores formed at and released from the ends of the fronds. Due to panaxea's medicinal value, many attempts have been made to collect spores and shoots for cultivation elsewhere, but to date no one has reported any success. As a result of incursions by populations of feral pigs, which consume the starchy cores of panaxea trunks with gusto, the supply of panaxea is diminishing rapidly.
Medicinal use is primarily of the pith although the roots are also infrequently used. The rare "Strand-sheep" variety of panaxea grows small reddish curled hairs resembling extra-fine sheep's wool, and those hairs are much prized for their medicinal value, although they are sufficiently difficult to obtain that recipes calling for them have largely fallen out of common use.
There are rumors of the midrib fibers of the fronds being used for moxibustion acupuncture, but if so it must be a closely guarded technique, as all reports seem to be of the "I know a guy whose cousin saw someone doing that" type.
It is also rumored that panaxea grows south of the Wall and that southrons use fibers from the panaxea fronds to drain lymph, bile, and cerebrospinal fluid from their dead before burial, but the less said about that the better.