The Compendium of Herbological Wonders, published in -56 CE by Florance Reddings, is widely considered to be the most insightful and comprehensive work on the flora of Terra Alta and the Shadowlands written to date.
According to Reddings, the idea for the book was first conceived when one of at his peers at his college in Almanac asked him if he could identify a flower that he had purchased from a group of traveling vendors that they claimed to be of Bermaran origin. Reddings was unable to, but not being a botanist easily deterred, spent days foraging through the White Library looking for clues on the matter. Returning empty handed, he was plagued with an newfound sense of the sparse and disorganized nature of his field. It was less than two seasons later, in early Orsiractus, that he had made up his mind to leave Almanac, his degree unfinished, and organize the body of work for himself.
Running off of the sizable savings he received from his late father, Reddings would go on to travel to nearly every corner of the known world over the course of the next 30 years. He wrote often to his friends and family, save for his period of detainment as a prisoner of war in the Sinderlands, but not even their heartfelt pleads could convince him to return home during the book's writing. Throughout that period, he was accompanied by a colorful team of companions at various times that he used as native guides where he traveled, one of which he would go on to marry after the book's completion.
During his travels, Reddings was noted as being indifferent to the dangers inherent to his long incursions into the field. If the accounts are to be believed, then on various occasions, Reddings had survived away from civilization for upwards of a year at a time, conversed with the witch doctors of various violent and reclusive tribes, studied foliage in active war-zones, and survived in personal combat with several of the most dangerous denizens of the Shadowlands, all to study an area's native plantlife.
The book counts in at 1233 pages, including appendixes, which account for roughly 10% of the book by volume, and details the notable aspects of nearly all known species or families of plants discovered at the time. It also includes nearly 160 new plant species never before documented in modern times. In addition, it displays detailed drawings of many of species contained, and dedicates a lengthy section to what was the first and only in-depth scientific study of the Elaran Earthmind, with which he was said to have personally communed.
In addition to being required reading in any modern biology class worth it's merit, the many tales of the book's writing have become suffused in popular culture. While Reddings emphasizes the scientific merits of his escapades, the adventures associated with his search for one species of plant or another have been the focus of many other books, articles, and plays, including The Hrutgal Horror, and The Crops that Harvest Men. The book has made Reddings both a household name, and a popular folk hero in many of the cultures he visited, though in his later years he did claim some dissatisfaction that plays written about his book where often more popular than the book itself, and that despite all his findings, he never was able to identify that original Bermaran-purchased flower that had sparked his travels in the first place.
Old Phantoms: Sinderlands
New Phantoms: Elaran Earthmind