THE LASHARDIA ("CORPSE PLANT", "GRAVE PLANT")

APPEARANCE - TERRITORY - HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR - USAGES - REPRODUCTION - MYTH/LORE

The Lashardia, or "Corpse Plant", as this bush is more commonly called, carnivorously feeds itself from flesh and blood rather from earth and sun. Growing in the far off jungles of the Peninsula of Shar, the Lashardia is thought to be a mere legend by most, but the people of southwestern Nybelmar. The Lashardia is a large flower bush that grows over the graves of freshly killed victims left over by preying animals. The plants tendency to grow over graves or corpses provides it with its two more common names of the "Grave Plant" or "Corpse Plant". The Lashardia is also known for its highly poisonous but rare blooms and the sleeping gas the females release just before her buds come into full bloom. It is not for nothing that there is a Krean saying that goes "He that sleeps with the Lashardia sleeps his last sleep".

The Lashardia receives its name from its unfortunate researcher, who died mysteriously when researching the female plants after a mating season. Lashardia never returned after studying the plant, and what little of his remains were left over were found under one of the plants along with his journal which was miraculously preserved. As far as the records indicate, Lashardia was a young Lillivear of 18 summers who made no other contribution other than then his ill fated research of the Lashardia plant.


Appearance. The Lashardia comes in two different genders, male and female. Lashardia plants are in general low but wide spread bushes. Male Lashardia are slightly smaller than the female plants, and only grow about 1 fore tall and 2 fores wide. Male Lashardia are marked by their dark pink reproductive organs that exist in the center of this plant. Male reproductive organs are spear shaped, rounded, wide at the bottom, and sharply pointed at the top. The centers grow larger as the plant matures, but a full grown male Lashardia’s core will be one fore long, at the widest point at the bottom one palmspan, and at the narrow top one nailsbreadth wide. During pollen season, the centers are coated with dark red pollen darkening the male's core. Female Lashardia plants are larger than the male plants, and will grow up to 2 fores tall and 1 ped wide, this is because the female reproductive is much larger than the male's. Female Lashardia have a ball like reproductive organ that in actuality is one large flower that blooms during pollinating season. The reproductive organs of the female Lashardia are a light dusty pink, and when in bloom turn to a seductive lavender colour with a dark coloured center. After the pollinating season is over, the female Lashardia’s center will turn to its normal colour unless it was successively impregnated in which case it turns a blood red colour during its gestation and will remain that colour until its blooms.

Just around this fragile repuductive organ, Lashardia grows a tight cluster of almost net like structure and strong green branches with long curved poison coated thorns. The thorn structure of the plant seems to form an upside down bowl around the reproductive organs of the plant. These thorns whether by nature or instinct mechanism, will unfurl and reveal the reproductive organs during the pollinating season of the plant. The thorn structure is generally 2 nailsbreadths thick all the way around, and is generally 5 nailsbreadths away from the reproductive centers. After the thorn structure, often called the "Thorn Ball", the Lashardia sprouts forth in a cluster of oval dark sognastheen leaves on long thin herne green stems. The leaves of the plant are in the shape of elongated ovals and are generally two fores long. The stems upon which the leaves grow are one nailsbreadth wide and one fore long. The leaves are tightly stacked together so that each leaf overlaps the one next to it by one nailsbreadth. The leaves spread apart from one another in all directions, and move as in a constant breeze. On the underside of each leaf, there are fur-like hairs growing in a nailsbreadth thick layer. If touched twice by an object, the leaf will curl up upon its self and roll into its center, alerting the plant of a potential food source.

Half of the Lashardia's roots are not secured into the ground, but grow above ground underneath the protection of the large leaves. The other half of the root system, grow underground for protection and in some cases, such as in grave yards, feeding purposes. The underground half of the root section is also dedicated in gathering the large amounts of water that the plant needs to break down flesh and blood as a food source. The only exception to this usual case is when the plant is feeding, in which all of the roots become firmly trenched in the ground. Studies have shown that Lashardia that grow and were sprouted exclsively in graveyards, do not develop the above ground root structure of some of their more wild cousins, and will feed exclusively on the flesh they find underground. The Lashardia root structure grows along the width of the plant, and the roots are a vivid blood red colour when the plant is feeding and a dark green, almost black colour when the plant is not feeding. Along the edges of the root system, tiny hollow thorns stick out a grain away from the main root. These thorns are the means by which the plants feeds itself by attaching the roots to the corpse. The Lashardia’s general shape looks like an upside down bowl. Size varies according to the gender of the plant, but in general Lashardia are no more then 2 fores tall and 1 ped wide.
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Territory. The Lashardia grows exclusively in the jungle areas of the Peninsula of Shar. The plant tends to grow in areas with a high concentration of predators or where the graveyard once was. A single male and female Lashardia will exclusively dwell in a five ped wide area, due to the scarcity of corpses or leftovers from predators this area. In cases where there once was a graveyard, however, Lashardia will grow in high concentration until their food source is gone. A male and female Lashardia will always occupy approximately the same area.
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Habitat/Behaviour. The Lashardia is a meat eating plant that feasts on the flesh of fresh corpses or the left over of predators.

The plant is believed to feed by using its leaves to detect any potential dead food source when the leaves brush against a body when blown against it by the wind. When food is sensed, the roots of the Lashardia will reach out and extend to the victim and tenderly stick the roots thorns into the food. If the food makes no protest, the root entrenches itself around the victim, moving the plant itself in an eerie fashion until the plant overtwines the dead food. Entrenching its vines into the victim, the plant will first suck the blood of the victim and then feast off the remaining flesh as the slow process of decay takes place. While it feeds, the roots of the plant will turn a bloody red. A large corpse will last a Lashardia plant as a food source for months. Since it feeds on blood, the Lashardia has little need for water or sunlight and will therefore grow in places where normal plants could not. The plant still needs water however, and half of its root system is dedicated to intaking the large amounts of water the plant needs to digest blood and flesh.

Lashardia also seem to have keen instinct or mechanism that allows them to detect fresh blood or the freshly dead, and will therefore sometimes grow over newly dug graves. Its truly a horrible sight to see a Lashardia growing over the body of a loved one.
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Usages. Lashardia are mildly poisonous plants. The poison of the Lashardia plant seems mostly to be a defensive measure to protect the highly sensitive reproductive cores of the plant. The poison of the Lashardia can be found in a wax-like coating on the thorns that surround the plant’s reproductive center. The poison whether used on animals or humans will cause the victim to feel extreme fear and to run away for no apparent reason. The poison is not long lasting and will for the most part only last long enough for the victim to run a dash away from the plant. The poison also seems to increase the victim's heartache by an extraordinary amount. For the most part, the poison seems to have no adverse affects but seems to simply be a warning to a would-be predator.

Most interesting to note is the poison the female Lashardia releases just before its fruits drop. This poisonous gas will cause anything of a small size in the region to immediately feel an irresistible urge to fall asleep. The poisonous gas does this by slowing the heart rate of the breather, dimming the vision, and decreasing lung function. Eventually the heart and lungs will stop completely and the victim will die. The poisonous gas effects anything as large as a human within 2 peds distance away from the plant. Those who are farther away during this time will at most feel slightly sleepy or light headed. This effect gave rise to the saying, “He who sleeps with the Lashardia sleeps his last”, and also the assassins threat of “The Lashardia fruit will fall soon, friend.”

The leaves are bitter tasting, and are generally avoided by most herbivores. This is because the leaves are coated in a thick layer of wax on their top layers that most herbivorous animals seem to dislike. In addition, the seeds of the Lashardia are coated in the same poison that coats the thorns of the Lashardia, making them extremely poisonous. Anybody who eats a Lashardia seed will instantly grow mad with fear. Ironically, the fruit of the plant is extremely tasty and highly edible, its only the seeds themselves which are deadly. Only the cruelest of assassins in the area therefore will use the seeds on their victims.
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Reproduction. During the months of Awakening Earth and Singing Bird, both the female and male defense thorn vines have spread apart so as to allow nothing but the smallest harmless flying insects access to the plant.

In the month of Singing Bird, the male Lashardia produces two things which aid in its reproduction. First the male Lashardia organs develop a thick coat of dark red pollen all along the length of its center organ, turning the dark pink spear shaped organ to appear even in colour. Second, along the bottom of the organ a thick syrup made of the sugarized form of the blood the plant has gathered and stored. Both the syrup and the pollen give off a sweet scent attracting small insects and sometimes birds to the plant. During these months, both the female and male defense thorn vines have spread apart so as to allow nothing but the smallest flying insects access to the plant.

The female Lashardia’s organ would have by this time bloomed to form a cerubell shaped blossom with the outside of the bloom being purple and the inside being pink. The female will also produce the same thick syrup as its male half, to attract insects. Inside the flower itself tall dark pink stems proudly stand within the bloom, numbering exactly five, these stems serve as pollen collectors. Insects attracted by the smell of both, will eat the sticky treat of the male and the female passing the pollen from the male to the female.

In Rising Sun, the thorn nets will tightly encase both male and female organs of the Lashardia, signaling the end of pollen season. Also the blooms of the female Lashardia will close, and if it was not pollinated return to its normal colour. It is extremely rare for a pollen season to be successful, and for the most part, a female Lashardia will only bloom and bear fruit once or twice in its lifetime. This is due to the variety of small non plant-harming insects that are able to enter the small holes in the thorn net of the Lashardia.

If successful, the female Lashardia’s center will turn a blood red colour and the plant will radiate with the foul stench of rotting corpses - thus giving rise to one of the Lashardia’s many names, "Corpse Plant". It takes a year for a pollinated plant to produce flowers, and then fruit, and during this time, the plant's appetite doubles.

During this time, five small green buds will begin to form with the thorn net of the mother plant, the buds will continue to darked and redden in colour as they mature. A year after successful pollination, the mother plant will allow her five small buds - dark red or pink in colour with a hint of green along their bottoms - to leave her net, and will grow the buds on green stems amidst her leaves. At this time, the plant will stop radiating its corpse-like stench, and return to its odourless state. The five buds will slowly begin to bloom, and will slowly bloom into star shaped blossoms in Rising Sun. Blooms are generally one palmspan around and are dark red with pink balls in their centers. In the center of each plant, a large round center will form, and as the petals to the blossom fall away form into one palmspan large round fruits. The fruit will continue to enlarge and darken in colour until the skin of the fruit is a dark red and it is 2 palmspans large by Burning Heavens. The fruit of the plant is always round in shape, and has a soft skin lined with miniature hairs. If broken in half, one would discover a soft bloody pulp around a hardened pink core in which are set two black seeds, one round (female) and one spear-shaped (male). Lashardia, when a successful pollination has occurred, will always bear five blooms/fruits and each fruit will always carry a male and female seed. During the Burning Heavens, the seedlings inside the plant will have begun to grow, and during the Sleeping Dreameress the seeds have grown into seedlings.

In the month of Sleeping Dreameress, when the fruit is ready to drop, the mother plant will once again open up its reproductive center and will release a sleeping gas into the air. Hopefully, this gas will put asleep and kill several corpses for the fruits. By this time, the fruit is very soft and palpable, and if bumped hard enough, it will burst. Once the gas is released, the fruit of the Lashardia plant will fall, and due to the tendency for the Lashardia to grow on small hills or mounds, roll away from the mother plant. The fruit will land and then burst hopefully near or on one of the dead corpses its mother created. The seeds inside - having already begun growing and having eaten all the pulp (which is actually blood) - will begin to root and greedily feed on any corpse they may land on. Generally only two fruits out of the five a Lashardia bears will land successively on a corpse, and therefore be allowed to sprout. Of those two fruits, only one pair a male and female will survive since it takes four months for the tender seedlings to fully form their protective thorn net, during which time they can be eaten by herbivores. Seedlings consist of the reproductive centers, small leaves, roots, and a tiny not fully developed net system which is still weak in nature.

If seedlings are successful, they can pollinate and reproduce, although it is rare for a Lashardia to reproduce in its first season. A female Lashardia is usually five years old before it will bear fruits, and male Lashardia depend on a large supply of flesh to produce their pollen.
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Myth/Lore. Not much is known of the origin of the plant, and the locals seem unwilling to share their beliefs of how the plant may have come about. An unknown bard however once unwillingly imparted while drunk the fact that the Lashardia was created as a gruesome reminder to those who killed others by the plants growing over graves and old battle sites that death is not pretty.
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 Date of last edit 27th Passing Clouds 1667 a.S.

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