"A little place called Hardrock"; or the story of how Hardrock came to be
The forest of Cormanthor was long the place of the elven empire of Cormanthyr. It is a large, dense forest made up of a variety of species of plants, including some trees that can grow over 100’ (30m) high deep in the woods.
Although Cormanthor can be seen as one forest, it is actually made up of four forests: the Elven Court, Semberholme, the Tangled Trees and the Vale of Lost Voices. The first three of these four roughly correspond to the old elven communities of the same names.
The part of Cormanthor closest to Cormyr, and the one we are most likely to deal with in our campaign is the Semberholme, part of the ‘starwood’.
The starwood is made up mostly of giant oaks and maple and is the most dense part of the forest. The maples average a height of 200’ (61m) and some of the oaks can reach 400’ (122m). The soil here is rich enough to be almost black and is almost constantly moist. This produces a wide variety of undergrowth, and travelling through this can be difficult because of its density. Because of the high humidity, a variety of lichens and mosses grow here. The starwood is rich in animal species such as deer, dire wolves, elk, emerald constrictors, finches, manticores, owls, porcupines, skunks, weasels and wood rats. There are also some unusual types of vegetation found here. These include medquat, chime oak, hinnies and zebra grass.
This area of the forest is split roughly into four, each with its own distinct tree types, but all areas of the starwood contain tall oaks, maples and hickories. The central starwood is west of the River Ashaba, and home to spruce and hemlock. The north starwood is rich in cedars, and home of Myth Drannor, the ruined elven city. The east starwood contains the Elven Court and Tangled Trees regions (both former elven communities), and is home to firs and elms. Finally, the west starwood has poplar and gum trees, and contains Semberholme.