Hide Weed, a member of the Mandrake family, is a large, fast-growing perennial native to Southeast Asia. Its extensive root system makes it difficult to remove, and due to its proliferous nature, it has been classified as a weed. The leaves of this plant are larger, often exceeding 5 mm in thickness. It produces a pungent smell when touched that lingers on the skin and clothes.
In 1894, a witch named Helga Mennefrit of London, England, visited Vietnam to study the botanical benefits of Hide Weed. During her study, she delighted in the leathery texture of the foul-smelling leaves and wondered if they would withstand a sewing needle. She soaked the leaves in a vat of salt water for 24 hours, which removed the stinking oils from the surface of the leaves and hardened the fibers for the process of sewing. Helga successfully sewed a small satchel from the leaves and realized the impact that this invasive plant could have.
While the export of invasive plants is forbidden, Helga smuggled a rootball of Hide Weed in her bosom during the journey home. While shipmates complained of her odor, she was never found out. In her rooftop greenhouse, the Hide Weed took root and thrived. Helga cultivated ideal specimens through selective breeding, though she was never able to rid the weed of its signature stench. The leaves produced material comparable to the heavily-proferred dragon leather, which depended on a widely corrupt industry that threatened the endangerment of many draconic species.
It was not until 1906 that Helga took her findings, plus samples of sewn projects, before the Mages' Board of Beasts and Biomes (MBBB) in an attempt to stop the trade of dragon leather in the United Kingdom. Her initial attempts were laughed at, as the dragon leather industry was a profitable one headed by many a prestigious mage.
Helga would spend the next ten years continuing the cultivation of Hide Weed, and she opened a storefront selling the material as well as sewn items at a comparably affordable price to that of dragon leather. Her competitors quickly understood the threat to their business, and several attempts were made to stop Helga in her efforts. Her store was burned down in 1913, and after a year of rebuilding, an arson attempt was made on her beloved greenhouse. It was during this attempt that Helga learned of the fire-resistant nature of her plants, which in turn changed the course of her efforts entirely.
The new fire-proof materials were a hit among consumers. Ironically, the Hide Weed materials found their deepest niche in the dragon industry, where handlers frequently found themselves burned at the hand of their trade. The affordable, durable, and sustainable material had taken the United Kingdom by storm. Helga opened multiple shops over the ten-year span and even bought a plot of land for a larger greenhouse. On her 19th appearance before the MBBB, the process of the dissolution of the dragon leather industry began. By 1920, the commercial trade of dragon leather was banned throughout the United Kingdom. Seven different draconic species bounced back from the brink of extinction by 1983.
Helga Mennefrit forwarded a majority of her profits to the local educational systems in Vietnam, where she initially studied Hide Weed. She is honored through a bronze statue in the Botanical wing of the Museum of Magic in London, where she is posed in the act of smuggling the initial Hide Weed root ball into her dress. A small bronze dragon winds its way around her ankle as a sign of thanks, a later addition by the MBBB.