Over the years, I saw my share of horror movies and nothing is scarier than the old primordial fear of being eaten alive. I watched many films with werewolves, sharks, aliens and dinosaurs, but there was this old black and white one where a plant ate an explorer somewhere in Africa which gave me quite a chill. Now at the time, I learn about carnivorous plants back in school, yet the idea of one large enough to consume people could only come from Hollywood. A few years later, to my shock, I came across a book containing articles, stories, legends, and myths about man-eating plants from around the world. When I started reading into the paranormal and discovered these plants were listed as cryptids was some what surprising.
One of the most famous story of man-eating plant was published in the New York World, written by Edmund Spencer. In his article, a German explorer named Karl Liche, in 1878 reported his account of witnessing a sacrifice of a village woman by the Mkodo tribe in Madagascar to a giant man-eating tree. In his account
“The slender delicate palpi, with the fury of starved serpents, quivered a moment over her head, then as if instinct with demoniac intelligence fastened upon her in sudden coils round and round her neck and arms; then while her awful screams and yet more awful laughter rose wildly to be instantly strangled down again into a gurgling moan, the tendrils one after another, like great green serpents, with brutal energy and infernal rapidity, rose, retracted themselves, and wrapped her about in fold after fold, ever tightening with cruel swiftness and savage tenacity of anacondas fastening upon their prey.”
Liche’s plant would be refereed as the Madagascar man-eating tree as the story was published in other newspapers. Over the years, others attempted to find the plant, but ended with no results. In the book, Salamanders and other Wonders published in 1955, author Willy Ley states the account to be false.
Another story originating from the swamps of Nicaragua, where a vine is referred by the natives as “The Devil’s Snare,” The account was described by the naturalist Mr. Dundysin, while spending two years studying the plants and animals of the region, he encountered the plant. He claimed during the time collecting specimens, he suddenly heard his dog barking in terror. Dustan rushed to the dog’s aid and found his pet wrapped in vines and roots. He tried desperately to cut the animal free with his knife, but the vines were difficult to cut and to his horror found the plant’s rope like tendrils wrapping around him. After some effort, Dustam was able to free himself and his pet, but both were hurt as indicated by the red blistering on their bodies. In his observation he reported:
“The plant’s power of suction is contained within a number of infinitesimal mouths or little suckers, which, ordinarily closed, open for the reception of food. If the substance is animal, the blood is drawn off and the carcass or refuse then dropped. A lump of raw meat being thrown to it, in the short space of five minutes the blood will be thoroughly drunk off and the mass thrown aside. Its voracity is almost beyond belief.”
This event was first published in Reviews of Reviews by editor William Thomas Sted, where he investigated the truth behind the account and believed to be a fabrication.
There are many other stories about man-eating plants, yet all are claimed to be false or hoaxes. Other expeditions have gone into the jungle to finding such plants, but to this day none have been discovered and remain classified not to exist. If someday you find yourself in the middle of the woods and encounter a tree, bush or some large plant surrounded with animal remains, walk away.
Bose, Alex. “The Man-Eating Tree of Madagascar, 1874”. Museum of Hoaxes. June 30,2014. http://www.museumofhoaxes.com