Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Man Eating Tree

Man Eating Tree Facts

Have you heard of plants eating man?  These silent species have been featured in books, news, television and film.  History tells that native tribes wandering through unfamiliar sites in the jungle were weary and fearful of man-eating plants

  • It's 1878. Somewhere in the backlands of Madagascar, German explorer Carl Liche, his companion Hendrick and a party of cave-dwelling Mkodo tribespeople are hacking their way through the jungle. At a bend in a sluggish creek, they come upon a remarkable plant, something like an 8-foot-tall pineapple. Eight agave-like leaves, each 11 or 12 feet long and studded with hooklike thorns, surround a depression filled with honey-sweet liquid. From the top of the tree sprout long hairy green tendrils and a set of tentacles, "constantly and vigorously in motion, with ... a subtle, sinuous, silent throbbing against the air."
  • In 1881, Carl Liche wrote a story about his expedition in Madagascar where he saw a human being sacrificed to feed a man-eating tree.  Upon investigation, he was told that while the natives, called Mkodo tribe, were wandering through the jungle, they chanced upon a weird-looking tree. The natives revered the tree and warned the German to move away. They brought a woman close to the tree and in front of Liche’s eyes; the tree moved to grab the woman and ate her.  This story continued for sometime gaining popularity and fear in the 1924 book named Madagascar, Land of the Man-Eating Tree.
  • According to Darwin's theories, there are a number of man eating plants in the world. Many live in wet areas where water can easily wash away the nutrients that the plants need in order to thrive and grow. Therefore, over the years they have had to adapt and make use of whatever they could find in their natural environment. Most have developed mechanisms to ensnare small animals, which they in turn use to draw the nutrients they require - - from their blood. It really isn't such a big leap from there to larger animals and perhaps even to man himself. In fact, the people of Madagascar will tell you that switch over has already taken place. Many in the area have claim to have witnessed trees, with long snake-like tendrils that envelop humans, strangle them, and then engulf their bodies inside to draw out the nutrient requirements from their blood.
  • Although the legend of the "Man-Eating Tree" is still widely questioned, many fictional short stories and movies have included variations of man-eating trees: 
    • In The Sagebrush Kid, a short story in Annie Proulx's 2008 Fine Just the Way It Is, a childless Wyoming couple transfer their affections first to a piglet, then a chicken, and finally to a sagebrush they fancy to have the appearance of a child. It is tended and protected, and even fed bones and stray scraps of meat from their dinner-table. Even after the couples' passing, the shrub - now grown to the height of a fair-sized tree - is used to human attention, and meat. It consumes livestock, then soldiers, then a local medico, railroad men, surveyors, and most lately a botanist come to investigate its unusual height and luxuriance
    • In J.W. Buel's Land and Sea (1887), the Ya-te-veo ("Now-I-see-you") plant is said to catch and consume large insects, but also attempts to consume humans. It is said to be a carnivorous plant that grows in parts of Central and South America with cousins in Africa and on the shores of the Indian Ocean. There are many different descriptions of the plant, but most reports say it has a short, thick trunk and long tendrils of some sort which are used to catch prey
    • In his popular Bengali horror short story, Septopas-er Khide (the hunger of the Septopas)Satyajit Raychronicles the tale of a cryptozoologist who finds a rare carnivorous plant in remote mountainous region, brings it back to Kolkata city and nurtures it to full growth. The tree then starts to show signs of intelligence, telepathy and ultimately turns on its captor.

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