African Culture

Truth or fabricated? The man-eating tree of Madagascar.

The man-eating tree.The man-eating tree.

 

Truth ir fabricated? The man-eating tree of Madagascar.

A man-eating tree can refer to any of the various legendary carnivorous plants large enough to kill and consume a human being or other large animal.

The man-eating tree.
The man-eating tree.

The Yateveo plant, a carnivorous plant, is described as being predominant to Africa and Central America, so it was named for producing a hissing sound similar to the Spanish phrase “ya-te-veo” —”I-see-you” and it has poisonous “spines” that resembles multiple of huge serpents in an angry discussion, occasionally darting from side to side as if striking at an imaginary prey, they seize and pierce any creature coming within their reach.

The earliest well-known report of a man-eating tree originated as a literary work, but termed fabrication written by Edmund Spencer for the New York World. In Spencer’s article, a letter was published by a German explorer named “Karl Leche” he provided a report of encountering a sacrifice performed by the “Mkodo tribe” of Madagascar:

Leche said that he found the man-eating tree near the bend in a stream and lucidly described it as such:

“If you can imagine a pineapple, eight feet high and thick in proportion, resting upon its base, and denuded leaves, you will have a good idea of the trunk of the tree… From the apex of this truncated cone (at least two feet in diameter), eight leaves hung sheer to the ground as doors slung back on their hinges. These leaves, which were joined at the top of the tree at regular intervals, were about eleven or twelve feet long and shaped very much like the American agave or century plant. They were two feet through the thickest part and three feet wide, tapering to a sharp point that looked like a cow’s horn, very convex on the outer surface and the inner surface, slightly concave. This concave face was thickly set with very strong thorny hooks, like those upon the cone’s head. These leaves, hanging thus limp and lifeless, dead green in color, had in appearance the massive strength of the oak fiber. The cone’s apex was a round, white, concave figure, like a small plate set within a smaller one. This was not a flower, but a receptacle, and there exuded into it a clear, treacly liquid, honey-sweet, and possessed of violent intoxicating soporific properties. From underneath the rim, of the undermost plate, a series of long, hairy, green tendrils stretched in every direction towards the horizon. These were about seven or eight feet long each and tapered from four inches to a half-inch in diameter, yet they stretched out stiffly as iron rods. Above these, from between the upper and under the cup, six white, almost transparent, palpi reared themselves, towards the sky, twirling and twisting with a marvelous perpetual motion, yet constantly reaching upward. Thin as reeds and frail as quills apparently, they were yet five or six feet tall, and were so constantly and vigorously in motion, with such a subtle, sinuous, silent throbbing against the air, that they made me shudder, despite myself, with their suggestion of serpents flayed, yet dancing on their tails.”



The man-eating tree.
The man-eating tree.

He claimed his observation was cut short by natives who had come shrieking wildly around the tree. But then, the interruption allowed him to witness a horrifying eating ritual.

He wrote that the tribe surrounded a woman and, using spears, forced her to climb to the top of the man-eating tree, where she became dinner:

Madagascar, situated in Eastern Africa, is home to many unusual and weird creatures, like the satanic leaf-tailed geckos, the aye-ayes, giant jumping rats, and leaf bug nymphs. But the strangest form of life on the island was believed to be a tree that ate people; it has been the most strange for many years now.

The story went into elaborated details about the tree and the primitive Mkodos tribe that worshipped it, The Mkodos, according to the story, lived in caves, wore no clothes and had no religion except the reverence which they pay to the sacred tree. And it was also reported that they were all short—none stood taller than 56 inches.

The story of a man-eating tree was given further exposure by the said country, Madagascar: Land of the Man-eating Tree, a book written by Chase Osborn, who had been a Governor of Michigan. Osborn claimed that both the tribes and missionaries on Madagascar knew about the hideous tree.

Many people have criticized this story of the man-eating tree, referring to the numerous stories as fabrications.

What do you think?


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Francis Chidera
the authorFrancis Chidera
Popularly known as Chokolate is a content creator. A lover of simplified words making it easy to get to a wider audience. It pains to see that Africans are forgetting and neglecting who they are, hence, I am passionate about reminding us of our culture. I work with 54history on the African culture category, to achieve this aim.

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