necrofoenae Haemorosa, commonly known as "Blood Petal," is an attractive flower that stands about six inches from the ground on a rich burgundy stalk that blossoms into a vibrant orchid-like flower with the most saturated veins crimson atop a lush white base. A field of these flowers, in all regards, a beautiful sight to behold - that is, in all regards but one; the absolutely putrid smell.
Haemorosa needs corpses to flower.
The family Necrofoenae are a family of plants that feed off dead things, utilizing their biomass and converting it to energy in one way or another. In the case of the Blood Petal, it is, you guessed it, blood that is used in this gruesome conversion.
The flower starts it's life as a seed, on a bird, particularly crows or vultures. Crows and Vultures, as everyone knows, are the first birds to the site of a terrible massacre or battle; the place where Blood Petal flourishes.
When the birds land, the seeds drop down into the corpses on which their temporary hosts have started to pick at. With any luck, a seed will land in a puddle of blood, and lodge itself into the ground. The bigger the battle and the more corpses, the more birds. The more birds, the more Haemorosa seeds are dropped. The outside of the seed is covered in a powdery orange substance. It's a potent anti-coagulent, which thins the congealed blood of the day old corpses. It doesn't take much to cause the blood to thin, and make it so that the seed can drink up the nutrients in the iron-rich hemoglobin.
From here, Blood Petal grows very quickly. Within days, the first maroon stalks emerge from the ground, or bodies. The roots are impressively strong, as they weave in and out of the nearest corpses, branching off into siphoning stalks to tap into the reserves of blood left in the corpses, producing more of the powerful orange powder to loosen up the blood clots of the rigored bodies. Eye sockets, mouths, wounds - any orifice is fair game to be examined by the expanding root stalks of the Haemorosa. Soon, the entire ground is covered by the roots, which seem to beat and pulse as they siphon the blood away from their corpse-hosts. The roots, also covered in the powdery orange anti-coagulent, expand their reach to the periphery of the corpse field, making sure that not one bit of blood is lost.
In as little time as a week, the bulbs of the flowers begin to sprout tender, albino petals. It is these petals that make the Haemorosa so magnificent. On a cellular level, they are composed of a tissue much like the human lung, and are coated with small, delicate microscopic alveoli. Shortly after the initial blossom, the petals fill with blood, the "veins" or "piping" that spans the length of the petal down the sides and middle, filling up with the vibrant scarlet fluid. Small cheetah-spot dots fill in as the petals saturate further, the white of the blossoms slowly becoming more of a cream color as they spend more time in the sun. The flowers, effectively respire by simply being exposed to a gentle breeze, and sunlight. While the flowers themselves exude no smell (there is no need for pollenation after all, thus no sweet sugar smell) the plants do reside atop mounds of decaying corpses, making the stench "Ripe" to say the least. The petals are understandably delicate, as a touch even slightly too rough can rupture the flower's delicate alveoli. Luckily there are few who want to actually touch the flower, and are content to stand at a healthy distance to simply admire. So long as there's a small breeze and a sufficient supply of blood, the flower remains beautiful, and a field of them, breathtaking, despite the rancid smell of decay.
Alas, the flowers have no way of creating more blood on which to survive. In this respect, they are a parasite, or more accurately, carrion. Once the supply of blood from the host runs dry, and the cells begin to die off due to cellular degradation, the Haemorosa switches into reproduction mode. It launches some female and some male reproductive material into the air, which, with any luck will get stuck in the feathers of a passing raven. The raven or crow serves as a mating ground, where the genetic material meets, and gestates to form a seed, by which time, hopefully, the crow will have found the next battlefield, on which to plant a new crop of Blood Petal. The old crop simply dies, and decomposes. The presence of the flower has multiple effects on the corpses below; it often times simply leaves a rich field of soil, save for the thousands of skeletons that are left untouched. In other cases, in the warmer drier climates, the field decomposes to expose thousands of perfectly preserved mummies - which are usually wrapped up and tossed into the sea.
The Haemorosa has had an interesting impact on Greatlanders. It is representative of both beauty and death. It's also symbolic of both an afterlife, and the ways that death influences the world. As the famous poet Kuban said as he reflected on the nature of the Haemorosa, "luint feoduint" or "a (single) life from a (single) death." Mass-burial rites have never been truly established by the Greatlanders (at least not in the Western areas, where the corpses tend to decompose, rather than mummify) because Haemorosa does such a wonderful job both covering up the bodies (the practical application), and honoring the fallen (the ethical and honorable application.) A common soldier's adage after a particularly gruesome battle is "Leave them for the flowers."
Haemorosa is a truly astounding plant, particularly because it's an example of an organism that has adapted and benefeited by the presence of humans, and particularly, war. And could there be a more beautiful reason to keep warring?