The Ambrosia bush is a fruit-berry indigenous planet on New Pavonis in the Threshold that produces sweet berries that are edible for human consumption, similar to elderberries. The berries and leaves are commonly used in teas in the Threshold.
Table of Contents
One of the first plants found to be edible on the planet of New Pavonis, colonists named it after "ambrosia," known to be the food or drink of mythical Greek gods. While it holds none of the mythical properties of bringing immortality or longevity, it is delicious and sweet.
Evolution and Subspecies
As with many indigenous plants, the berries yielded little fruit and were not ideal for farming, so subsequent variations have been genetically modified to increase yield and grow in more diverse climates.
Ambrosia berries are delicious and sweet, and both the berries and leaves contain copious amounts of pauvine, an indigenous stimulant very similar to caffeine, which produces the same reaction in the human body.
Ambrosia bushes grow in forested areas, requiring between six and twelve hours of light a day. In climates similar to Earth's equator they are known to dry out and die due to over-exposure. The bushes populate slowly throughout the planet and are therefore easy to transplant and export for colonies.
Diet and Enemies
Ambrosia berries are notably toxic to many species of Earth-birds, who seem to avoid the berries, but mammals with more robust digestive systems can easily break down the stimulants and find the effect to be pleasurable. The robust seeds of the berries are easily passed through GI tracts of these animals.
Relationship with Humans
In addition to being used for tea, the juice of the ripe ambrosia berry is a common additive or main constituent of sweet drinks, meant to be used as a natural stimulant. While slightly weaker in effect than caffeine, users who have built a tolerance to caffeine stimulation will find none of the same tolerance to pauvine, unless they have also be taking pauvine stimulants. Among shipboard crews, it is common for sailors to swap between the two, allowing the tolerance to wear off of one or more stimulants while using the other, to preserve the overall effect of both for a longer period.
Ambrosia received cultural backlash when it began to be used in stimulant drinks, as it was being used in addition to common caffeine, taurine, and other additives, the negative effects of anxiety and heart trouble were more pronounced. Despite warnings from medical professionals that these effects were similar to what would be observed should the drink contain a relatively increased amount of caffeine instead, it was years before the public began to accept ambrosia drinks.
The berries, both dried and fresh, saw common use as trail foods for hikers when they arrived on the galactic scene, and this percolated into common use as a mid-day snack for workers feeling drowsy after a greasy or heavy lunch.
Because of their pauvine content, parents are often warned about giving their children ambrosia berries. To date, there have been no studies that show side effects not otherwise seen in caffeine-use in children.