Posted by MydeaMedia
You've seen them in movies—goofy rubber like "plants" with fake octopus tentacles wrapped around a scantily clad female. Those are the man-eating plants envisioned by Hollywood writers whose cheap films were shot in the scrubby foothills of the San Fernando Valley.
The real thing may be much more ferocious and unforgiving and you might not be able to scare it away by tossing some butter-soaked popcorn kernels at it like you might have done at the movies when you were a kid.
For more than a century, serious investigators have searched for the fabled man-eating plants. Those horrors of the darkest jungles that supposedly hide in the most forbidding corners of the world's most inaccessible green hells.
The origin of the belief in man-eating plants can be traced back to the year 1881. During that god-forsaken year of war and turbulence it is recorded that a redoubtable German adventurer and world explorer, Carl Liche, reported to a breathless Europe on a terrifying episode in the unexplored interior of Madagascar during his trip there in 1878.
Madagascar, the large island that lies off the southeast coast of the mysterious African continent, was home to a ferocious tribe of natives called the Mkodo. When Liche met the Mkodo he observed a gut-wrenching ceremony that both repelled and repulsed him.
According to the explorer's testimony to teeming crowds of thrill-seekers filling lecture halls across Europe, he watched helplessly as the Mkodo tribes people performed somber ceremonial rituals in preparation for the cold-blooded sacrifice of a young woman.
The terrified victim, prodded by long, sharpened sticks, was made to climb the thick vines of a gigantic, bulbous plant that Liche said resembled a grotesque pineapple. The explorer recalled the gruesome plant had a gaping maw at the very top. The rim of the maw was lined with hanging, hairy tendrils. Beneath the tendrils writhed groping tentacles similar to that found on giant squid.
In the maw was a warm and sticky substance that looked all the world like viscous, sick-colored honey. Encouraged by hoarse shouts and commands from the natives below her bare feet, she hesitantly cupped her hands and sipped the vile liquid.
Liche would often shudder at that point in the monologue before continuing his narrative and sharing the horror he felt at the moment he realized just what the towering plant really was…a salivating cannibal tree.
Then he watched, immobile with sick fear and revulsion as the tree jerked to awareness.
Sensing the woman nearby, the ghastly thing stretched out slender tendrils blindly searching for its warm meal.
For one mind-numbing, frozen moment, a mass of vines writhed just above the victim's head, Liche related in his lecture, and then the tentacles descended like coiled green serpents striking in unison. The evil things wrapped themselves about her like boa constrictors greedily embracing its prey.
Liche related how the girls screams were horrible enough, but she also laughed maniacally as the tree drew her towards it gaping maw. The shaken explorer confessed the doomed woman's wild laughter—finally smothered by the vines and tendrils wrapping around her struggling body-would haunt him all the remaining years of his life.
Her final sounds emerged from pain-wracked, trembling lips: a series of low gurgling moans, as the terrible creature stuffed her into its gaping digestive cavity and ate her.
That was Liche's account to throngs of mesmerized audiences. It's reported that some women fainted and others had to leave the lecture after having been overcome with distraught emotions.
Despite the detail of this account, subsequent research during the 20th Century proved that Carl Liche's enthralling and colorful tale of adventure and pulse racing horror was completely false. No cannibal tree was ever found in Madagascar or anywhere else. No Mkodo tribe exists. And apparently, despite the confirmation from people who swore they had attended his lecture, a person named Carl Liche never existed.
Carnivorous plants, however, do exist, but to date the largest found (during 2010) grows in Papua New Guinea, not Madagascar. The largest prey it can capture and eat are medium sized-frogs and small rats.
Meat-Eating Plants by D.M. Souza, Franklin Watts, 2002.
Carnivorous Plants by Tony Camilleri, Kangaroo Press, 1998.
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