Awesome or Off-Putting is a weekly delve into cryptozoology, ufology, aliens, medical marvels, scientific wonders, secret societies, government conspiracies, cults, ghosts, EVPs, myths, ancient artifacts, religion, strange facts, odd sightings or just the plain unexplainable.
In 1881 Carle Liche recounted a trip he took to Madagascar in the magazine the South Australian Register. In the article he claims that while in that country he witnesses a primitive tribe carry a woman up to a tree, place her at its roots, and then back away. Within seconds the tree reached down, grabbed her, and hoisted her up to a place so it could more easily consume her.
Since the article was published some have called it a hoax, while others have backed it, saying the tree is common knowledge in the area the story depicts. The only thing agreed upon by both sides is that the woman who was torn apart by the branches has never issued a statement for or against.
To set up the following quote, Carl Liche was a visitor to Madagascar when he said he witnessed the Mkodo tribe carry a woman up to a tree, and lay her at its roots. He later wrote an article about it, and this is how he described the ensuing sacrifice:
“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.”
And then it ate her. We haven’t seen anything that’s indicated her exact manner of death, like if the tree had a big wooden mouth or something, but the imagery of her screaming while being crushed by the coiled branches is enough for us.
Like we said, the story has detractors, obviously, but it also has devotees. One such of the latter is Chase S Osborn. He’s a former governor of Michigan. In 1924 he wrote a book all about the tree. He called it: Madagascar: Land of the Man-Eating Tree. The tome is referenced in conjunction with the other story – and it’s real enough to be for sale on Amazon, but we couldn’t find any online excerpts.
Suffices to say Osborn claims the tree is common knowledge of the local tribes and the missionaries in Madagascar, although from what we’ve gathered an exact location for the thing has never been given. Another thing that’s never been given is a reason to sacrifice to the tree. Would it uproot itself and roll through the village otherwise? Would its long, underground roots spring up on farmers in their fields, dragging them underground?
It seems like an easy thing to write off, but before you do you should know legends of man-eating trees are all over the place. The Philippines has a story pretty similar actually. This is from Wikipedia:
“[Duñak, the Philippines’ man-eating tree] does not appear abnormal until a large animal walks under its branches, at which point barbed vines extend down from the tree to wrap themselves around the animal. The animal is then lifted up into the foliage, crushed to death, and consumed. It is said to have occasionally taken humans, but mostly does not prey on anything larger than deer and other ungulates native to the region.”
The article goes on to state this tale could be an exaggeration of a smaller plant that eats frogs, or a misconceived rendering of a giant snake attack.
We here at hecklerspray think the whole thing sounds a bit like the time a two janitors and a window cleaner all simultaneously disappeared into Stu’s old beard. Seriously, we saw that one with our own eyes.