Fonilee berries grow on a vine. The fonilee vine looks deceptively like ivy as it winds up a tree trunk.
Origin and History
While the exact origin of Fonilee berries is not explicitly detailed in the books, their use as a poison suggests a long-standing recognition of their harmful properties. The berries, when picked prematurely and left to dry, can be used to create a potent poison, indicating a deep understanding of the plant’s lifecycle and the transformation of its properties over time.
Description and Species
Fonilee Berries are described as ripe, purple berries that are tart and barely edible in their natural state. When picked prematurely they are an unripe gorgeous lavender colour. If picked in their premature state and left to dry, they transform into a potent poison. This transformation is a testament to the plant’s adaptability and the complexity of its chemical composition. The exact species of the Fonilee Berries is not specified in the series, but their unique properties suggest that they belong to a group of plants known for their poisonous attributes.
Identification and Use
Violet Sorrengail, the protagonist of Fourth Wing, is adept at identifying Fonilee Berries, particularly when they are ready to be used as a poison. According to Fourth Wing, she picks them up after Assessment Day, which normally takes place mid-summer as part of the Riders Quadrant. Her ability to discern the right time to pick the berries and how to process them into a potent poison demonstrates her deep understanding of the plant and its properties. This knowledge is crucial to her survival strategy, as she uses the poison derived from the berries to weaken her opponents before engaging in combat.
The Fonilee Berries are found in the courtyard of the Basgiath War College, where Violet grew up. This suggests that the berries thrive in the specific climatic and soil conditions of this region, in Navarre.
Based on the description in the book, it seems that Navarre has four distinctive seasons: with autumn colours in October, snow in January, balmy temperatures in the summer. Based on this information, we can safely assume that fonilee berries are plants that grow in areas with four distinctive seasons and often referred to as “temperate” or “deciduous” plants. These terms are used to describe plants that have adapted to regions with a moderate climate with a distinct winter and summer season. Deciduous plants, in particular, are known for shedding their leaves in the fall and winter and growing new ones in the spring.
Fonilee Berries in The Book of Poisons
Violet is well-versed in the art of poison. A crucial part of her survival toolkit is a comprehensive book of poisons. This book is an extensive guide to various types of poisons, providing detailed information on their identification, preparation, and usage.
It’s highly likely that Violet’s knowledge of Fonilee Berries and their poisonous properties was gleaned from this book. The guide would have equipped her with the necessary information to identify the berries in their natural habitat, understand their lifecycle, and know the precise moment to pick them for maximum potency.
This book, therefore, plays a significant role in enhancing Violet’s survival skills in the perilous environment of the Basgiath War College. It empowers her with the knowledge to use poisons as a strategic weapon, turning the natural world around her into an arsenal.
Similarities with real life plants
Fonilee Berries seem akin to Hedera rhombea, or Japanese ivy. Hedera rhombea is a species of ivy native to East Asia. It is commonly found on rocky slopes and climbing trees in laurel forests. This plant can reach a height of 10 meters when suitable surfaces are available, and it can also grow as ground cover. It uses aerial rootlets to cling to its substrate. The stems are green, poisonous if ingested, and produce an irritating sap.