Desert Rose (/ dɛzəɻt ɹoʊz / (Huri: / go:les ei:ru: /))
The desert rose or as it is known by the Huri people who live in its habitat call it the Gollas Eru (Eye of Gold), is a rare, small, flowering plant native primarily to Outer Huria. It is most famous for its use in a number of cultural functions of the Huri, and finding and collecting a desert rose is considered a major achievement. The Desert Rose is one of the most culturally important symbols of the Huri culture, though outside of the Huri almost nobody considers this plant to be particularly important. Desert Roses have steadily declined in population after the ascendancy of the Ilosi Republic, through the Aeillan Imperial, and into the Reforging Period, only stabilizing in recent years, though some Terruk have tried to destroy Desert Roses, with little success. The desert rose is incredibly rare in the modern period, having never been especially common, and actively destroyed by foreign entities seeking to break the cultural ties of the Huri people. The Huri for their efforts have gone to great lengths to protect the Rose, including numerous attempts to cultivate it themselves, and some Huri peoples have taken up religious positions dedicated to the preservation of the rose, outright killing those who seek to destroy them. These Rosewardens as they are called by foreigners are perhaps the most extreme measure meant to conserve the Desert Rose as much as can be done.
Ecology and Habitats
The Desert Rose lives almost entirely in the high desert of Huria. Despite seeming a plant that would thrive best in wetter climates, the Rose thrives greatest on barren rock faces with only minimal access to water. Such behavior is believed to be due to the influence of magic or other supernatural factors as other, similar plants cannot survive in Huria. The Desert Rose generally grows best in direct sunlight, though it can also thrive in indirect sunlight, it cannot grow properly or bud in shade, though the plant itself can survive.
The Desert Rose has a fairly simple lifecycle. Desert roses are birthed by asexual budding reproduction from a parent planet. These buds enter a relatively short period as "free wanderers" traveling along the ground through the winds, many rosebuds die in this stage, unable to find suitable soil in which to plant themselves fully. Upon finding suitable ground, the rose undergoes a dramatic period of growth of several months to a year growing to the size of an adult plant. Adult plants undergo season budding where the new buds grow, this is also when the Desert Rose blooms, producing a medium sized, yellow blooming flower which collapses in on itself when the bud is ready to break away from the parent plant. Adult Roses live for several years, with some believed to have lived up to sixty years. Plants dying of old age slowly shrivel after their last bloom.
Many attempts have been made to domesticate the Desert Rose. Almost all of these have been made by the Huri people who view the plant as being sacred by them. An additional attempt has been made by Aeillan botanists seeking to secure samples of the plant for the Imperial Palace in Apepsos. In the case of the Huri, the Desert Rose was explicitly planted in soil believed amenable to the plant. Aeillan attempts were cruder, simply taking buds and trying to make them grow in the soil of Apepsos. No attempt thus far has succeeded.
Uses, Products & Exploitation
The Desert Rose is valued highly in Huri society. The Rose, when ground into a powder has hallucinogenic properties that induce a state of euphoria, or in sufficiently high concentrations, even egodeath. This state is utilized by Huri spiritual leaders in a number of important rituals, particularly those involving cycles of life. The Rose's byproducts can be used as a powerful dye (including permanently dying hair), and the yellow shade it creates is utilized in the creation of robes used by spiritual leaders. The plant itself also has cultural cache, as finding a Rose is seen as a major achievement, those who find their first have their hair dyed with the Rose, and become Rosemarked, often given greater latitude within their own society.