|Origin||No Man's Sky|
|Reproduction||Sexual; produce seeds|
|Predators||Sagerdh Cohore, Yinfurbing Tukakak|
Kukamba is a species of tiny, subterranean creeping vines that produce a massive fruiting gourd indigenous to Zukabergo-Nama Gusuk, the moon of Sacowitchi Iefalt. They are one of the many species that enter hibernation during the world's glacial period and emerge during its irradiation period, as seen during the Great Thaw event.
Despite what most colonists see, Kukamba is not just a large, clustering gourd; in fact, this is just their fruit used in reproduction. The actual flora itself is a creeping vine that, for the most part, remains under the surface as a subterranean, root-like structure. These roots knot themselves together, almost in a crochet-like manner in order to better support the growing fruit above. As the fruit grows, so does this vine become wider and more complex, forming a webbed mat known as a doily.
When the right season comes, these doilies extend a number of large leaves to cover the ground and soak up as much energy as possible. This energy is then used to produce a new vine out from their center mass to pierce the soil and become covered with flowering blossoms to await pollination. Should the Kukamba sprout near a rock or similar object, the vine will creep along it and fasten itself tight. In some cases this has caused minor problems with the wiring inside of rovers that have not been moved in some time. Once pollinated, the leaves are reabsorbed and the flowers wither away; at this stage the Kukamba will begin to develop out of this sprouted vine. As Kukamba usually live in small clusters, this will usually produce small "patches" of the fruit.
The fruit—a type of pepo or botanical berry with a hard outer rind and no internal divisions—are roughly cylindrical objects, standing around the height of a man, which tapers at one end. This fruit is around 90% water.
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.
Kukamba are semi-parthenocarpic, in that their blossoms will create a seedless variety of fruit should no pollination occur. For those seeking to feed upon them, pollination will actually degrade the taste of the Kukamba; however these seedless members are actually more toxic than their pollinated alternatives.
Naturally, they are pollinated by small, unspecified species that have not yet been formally scientifically identified. They are semi-incompatible, and thus despite their being hermaphroditic, the pollen from another Kukamba is actually required for it to seed and fruit in this manner. Using its own genders to pollinate it will sometimes work, but will result in highly misshapen fruit with a much lower inner consistency (ie, almost slushy and pasty) due to inbreeding.
Kukamba seeds are dispersed by utilizing local herbivores (specifically, Sagerdh Cohores and Yinfurbing Tukakaks) to consume the fruit and excrete the seeds elsewhere, thus creating a new patch of Kukamba in another area.
Like many other species of vegetation on Zukabergo-Nama Gusuk, Kukambas are toxic to consume. There is enough of this toxin, known as Iofoitumite, in a single Kukamba gourd to kill most culinary enthusiasts, and as such much care must go into their preparation as a foodstuff. First they must have the various "spots" carefully removed as most of the toxin is stored in these areas, and then the remaining gourd must be boiled for a time. Failing to do so will lead to a searing sensation in the throat leading down to the stomach, followed by frothing at the mouth and moderate psychosis. Finally the victim will enter a state of convulsions leading to tense muscle tightening for a few hours, followed by death when the heart or heart-equivalent finally gives out.
Like other vegetation on-world, this toxin is believed to somehow be derived from their irradiated exposure, and thus might be a form of minor radiation sickness.
Kukamba is only found in the Yinfurbing Moor area, a former research station overtaken by the Lambenct virus before the Great Thaw.