Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Man eating tree

Not my text, but taken from the Unexplained Mysteries forums. Original poster there is Kar-Zid. Text below is copypaste, but I thought I'd share it as it could be fascinating for roleplaying games.



A tree which not only is capable of killing a full grown man, but uses the corpse to sustain it's own life. The Man Eating Tree is a fabled plant, and is one that dates back a long way. The earliest known report of the specifics of this botanical cryptid was all the way back in 1881. Carl Liche, the German explorer, wrote of what he had witnessed in Madagascar whilst in the presence of the Mkodo tribe:

"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."

What he witnessed was the various parts of a tree attacking, strangling, and pulling in a woman. The account details a brutal crushing motion that the tree went through with it's victim, the member of the Mkodo tribe destroyed. However, there are only dead ends to be found with this account. This particular tree has not been seen again, and there are no reports of any sightings before hand. Another thing to note, the same can be said for the Mkodo tribe.

After a little digging around, I found that the Mkodo tribe only exists in that context, about Carl Liche and the man-eating tree. Nowhere else is this tribe mentioned. I decided to try my luck at a translation, perhaps this supposed tribe's name meant something in Malagasy (the native language of Madagascar). However, it means nothing, and isn't even recognized anywhere that I could find. It seems as if the Mkodo tribe was only ever witnessed by the one man, which is quite a stretch. He also claimed to be the first to discover this tribe, strengthening the skepticism possible against this.

In 1924, a book entitled Madagascar, Land of the Man-eating Tree written by the former governor of Michigan, Chase Osborn, was published. In this book, Osborn claims that both tribes and missionaries that reside in Madagascar know about the tree, and he quotes Liche. Unfortunately, his claim does not hold up either under simple analysis. For a start, if Liche's comments had been falsified (which is nearly certain), then the Mkodo tribe would not exist (also nearly certain), and thus this ritual would not exist with sacrifices to the tree. In turn, without these sacrifices and the Mkodo tribe, either the tree would not have been discovered or focused on, or it simply does not exist. Another strange, and convicting, fact about his book is that it was published at least six years after he came back from traveling the world. Six years is a long time, and he would've been 64 years of age at the time of publication. Memories do not stay solid for that long, especially so when at that age.

The account from Carl Liche is more than likely a fantastical tale with no basis on fact, the Mkodo tribe, the tree and even perhaps the character of Carl Liche were just parts of the story. The tale then grew as a factual account, as it had been advertised as such. The mythical Man-Eating Tree of Madagascar is but an object of imagination. However, even if this particular tree does not exist, that does not mean a tree of the same build cannot exist.

If adapted and evolved to this habit, a plant could theoretically sustain itself upon human blood. However, a plant of the size of a tree would require vast amounts of blood to live and grow, and this amount is unrealistic. Animals could, also theoretically, be another source of the blood but that just leads us to the simple Venus Fly Trap and other such real life small plants which feed off other living creatures. A tree which has the ability to swing it's vines or branches or any part of it, and use those normally fairly weak appendages to pick up and destroy a human being is also very very inaccurate and unrealistic.

To sum the study up, the original accounts of a Man-eating Tree from Carl Liche are pure fabrication. The subsequent comments from Chase Osborn are either fabricated or simply not true. The tribe of Mkodo is, likewise, falsified. A Man-eating Tree would not have the proper resources to grow or flourish into an actual tree, and plants inherently do not have enough power or maneuverability to capture and kill human prey and prevent them from finding a way to escape.


Anonymous said...

Great googly moogly! If I understand what you're getting at, it's that the ENTIRE MKODO TRIBE and ALL MISSIONARIES WHO MADE CONTACT WITH THEM have been consumed by man-eating trees. Poor Liche is the sole survivor and now no-one believes him. How awful.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying the entire Mkodo tribe and all the missionaries that contacted them except Liche were consumed by man-eating trees? That's awesome!

Unknown said...

In my observation the story tells only about one man-eating tree what has been lost for a while. Mr. Lich was only to see or even find the Mkodo tribe, no trace of them afterwards.

So, where is the tree hiding, and his tribe?

That tree was like a god with sacrifices and stuff...

Maybe adventuring party stumbles upon to this tree, or they want to find it based on rumours. Also they could be after lost Mkodo tribe, but what they find is not a tribe, but... OMG WTF MAN EATING TREE!