|Origin||No Man's Sky|
|Species Type||Cosmic Marigold|
|Reproduction||Sexual via pollination; produces seeds|
|Distinctive Features||First new species noted after Great Thaw|
Gusukhope (Cosmotagetes zukabergo) is a species of small, flowering perennial flora that superficially resembles some species of the Marigold plants found on Earth, such as Marsh-marigold, Karl Marigold, and Mexican Marigold, indigenous to the planet Zukabergo-Nama Gusuk. It is notable as being the first new species noted upon colonists recontacting the planet after its sudden Great Thaw event.
The species received its most common name and the two second-most common names—"Gusukhope", Gusuk's Hope, and Hope-for-Gusuk respectively—due to the first colonists to touch back down upon the planet landed in a giant field of this vegetation that spanned as far as the eye could see, a mere week after the Great Thaw had calmed down. The name was meant to illicit hope for the planet and its indigenous lifeforms after the devastating Lambency Crisis that had been overtaking the entire globe, eradicating various species and even causing great danger and subsequent harm to the sapient colonists. Ultimately, the first new camp was built in this location, a small gathering location known as Gusuk's Hope. Although important to the reestablishment of the world, it was eventually all but forgotten after the Amganna Operations Centre went online. Those that seek out Gusuk's Hope are normally hard pressed to find the colony now if they do not already know where it is located.
The other two alternate names for the species are "Zukabergo Marigold" and "Zukaberigold"—are simply references to their similarities to actual Marigold, with the latter being a portmanteau of the name of the planet and Marigold itself.
Gusukhope grows to about 18-32 inches tall. It mainly consists of a hardy, tough but fleshy green stem that branches several times. Each of these branches end in a bud that will develop quickly into a gold-colored cupped flower. They are hermaphroditic (possessing both male and female reproductive organs) and must be pollinated by one of numerous small species. The stems have a tough exterior but are hollow on the inside; when snapped off, the stems produce a milky substance that can be used as a makeshift antibiotic and a source of itch and mild pain relief when applied directly to the skin.
The species is perennial but will remain active and flowering until the planet enters another glacial period, at which point all Gusukhope worldwide will die off and leave behind seeds that will remain dormant for huge swathes of time until the moon thaws once again.
The only thing Gusukhope needs is warmth, irradiation, some degree of nutrients in the soil (although they can survive in nutrient poor soil as well, so long as there is at least a little there), and water in the form of humidity. Some colonists have tried cultivating them as a houseplant as a sign of strength over the threats that loomed over them in the past, and have found that Gusukhope does not take well to fertilizer nor to brackish or salt-laden water. Brackish water will stunt their overall growth but they will survive; Saltwater will slowly bleach the plant-like species until it becomes pure white over the course of a week or two before wilting.
Numerous small and unstudied organisms feed and pollinate the species. Other larger species such as the Yinfurbing Tukakak and the Zukabergo Wogakak have been reported to display a prone posture to avoid predators by laying down in a field of Gusukhope and laying still until the threat passes.
The many small flowers of the Gusukhope produce copious amounts of pollen and a moderate amount of nectar to attract as many pollinators as possible, thus allowing the species to continue to thrive even should one or two symbiotic species go extinct. Self-fertilization leads to sterilization in the new plant and thus cannot be used to propagate the species as a whole.
Normally, the plant-equivalents will fruit any time a specific flower is pollinated, and thus can reproduce year round under nominal conditions. Once the effects of a glaciation begin to take effect however, they quickly expend all of their remaining energy to produce thousands of seeds that then may be spread by herbivores or otherwise will drop to the ground around the dying Gusukhope and enter their dormant state until the next thaw. Considering how long the last glacial period on Zukabergo-Nama Gusuk lasted, these seeds can lie dormant for at least ten thousand years and still be viable.
Gusukhope has been found to be moderately toxic to species that have not built up a tolerance to them. Consumed in large quantities without boiling first may result in convulsions, burning or irritation of the throat, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dizziness and occasional fainting. Those seeking them as a culinary tool are suggested to either boil the stems or eat the shoots, which have not yet developed a level of toxicity. This toxin is believed to somehow be derived from their irradiated exposure, and thus might be a form of minor radiation sickness.
Seeds of the Gusukhope have lain dormant for perhaps tens of thousands of years, under the glacial ice that, until very recently, covered the globe. It is now seen to be a cosmopolitan species, easily the most common species of flora on the entire planet. Although many seeds did not germinate, the moon is suspected to be completely covered in the plant-equivalent within a century or so.