Thursday, March 25, 2010

Royal Xenological Society, Vol. 5

Rosa venusica manticora
"Venusian Manticore Rose"

Shown above is a photostat of one of the more dangerous plants on Venus: Rosa v. manticora, or the Manticore Rose. It is so named for several features it shares in common with the earthly rose bush. First, it has a red coloration like the common variety of Earthly roses. Second, the odor of the blossom is quite similar to that of the common rose. However, the Manticore Rose has a single smooth stem with only one blossoming head, unlike the thorny thicket of stems typical of the common rose. It would seem that, lacking this defense (of thick sharp thorns), the Manticore Rose would be easy prey for herbivorous creatures of the rainforest.

The actual truth is that most creatures of the Veiled Planet's jungles know to avoid getting close to this plant. You see, the large bulbous blossom has the ability to fling a volley of sharpened thorns at any creature that approaches within a dozen feet. These thorns, beyond the damage caused by their needle-sharp points, are also envenomed. Observation of some of the larger Venusian lifeforms indicates that they may be immune or merely irritated by these toxins (as humans are to various stinging nettles), or that their thick scaley hides have developed to the point of virtual immunity. We thin-skinned denizens of Earth are rapidly overcome by the potent poison. The toxin puts its victim into a deep comatose state.

Doctor Nigel Clive of the Agricultural College of Texas, the Texican scientific group's chief botanist, believes that the plant feeds on the remains of small creatures that are overcome by the toxin and fall to the ground near the root system. These animals perish of malnourishment while comatose, and their bodies decompose, feeding nutrients in to the soil.

There is no known antidote for Manticore Rose poison. Two Texican marines are still comatose months after being poisoned. Travelers to Venus are warned that if they smell roses, they should proceed very cautiously.

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