Secrets behind the Killer Tree

Ever heard stories of the killer tree!? Well, I have and I must say they’ve been enthralling! The killer tree (also referred to as the Man-eating tree) is the legend of a cryptid carnivorous plant which is so large that it can actually kill & consume a living person or a large-sized animal.

Photo by Bornean

Nepenthes rajah is known to be the largest carnivorous plant that has the biggest & most deadly known traps. This plant is known to produce pitchers close to 38 cm (or 15 in) in height with volumes that go up till 3.5 litres (or 0.92 US gal; 0.77 imp gal). It is extremely rare for this species to trap a small mammal.

The Killer Tree: Madagascar tree

Photo by wallygrom

The first ever report that was documented of a man- eating/killer tree was nothing but a hoax. It was in the year 1881, that Carl Liche (a German explorer) documented a story in ‘South Australian Register’ wherein he stated that there was a sacrifice that was performed by a tribe named “Mkodo” in Madagascar.

This killer tree was further given publicity when Chase Osborn (the former Governor of Michigan) mentioned this tree in his book titled ‘Land of the Man-eating Tree’ (in the year 1924). Chase Osborn stated that the missionaries as well as the tribes in Madagascar had full knowledge of this hideous man-eating tree & he confirmed Carl Liche’s account.

The year 1955 brought forward yet another book by Willy Ley (a science author) titled ‘Salamanders and other Wonders’ which stated that Mkodo tribes, Mr. Carl Liche, as well as this man-eating Madagascar  tree was nothing but a fabrication and someone’s figment of imagination with no truth what so ever behind it.

Ya-te-veo: Central America’s killer tree

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Ya-te-veo translates into ‘I see you’ and in Land & Sea by J. W. Buel (in the year 1887), this Ya-te-veo plant is depicted as a carnivorous plant that catches & consumes large insects…not just that, it is even said that this killer plant in Central as well as South America has attempted to consume humans.

This killer tree has been found in Africa as well as shores of Indian Ocean and there have been numerous descriptions of this man-eating plant. However, majority reports have stated that this tree is short and has a thick trunk with long tendrils that are the weapon through which it entraps its prey.


The killer tree has appeared a couple of times in literature:

  • The series titled ‘Harry Potter’ showed a plant by the name of ‘Devil’s Snare’ that tries to consume Harry & his buddies by entrapping them in its vines.
  • The Day of the Triffids (by John Wyndham) shows killer trees that not only walk, but also use venomous lashes to hunt their prey.
  • Beyond the Deepwoods, which happens to be the 1st story in The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell, Twig (the protagonist) comes face to face with a killer tree called Bloodoak.


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Jyotsna Ramani is a passionate writer and an avid globetrotter. She had a knack for writing since her early years, though that was mostly letters to her penpals and jotting her thoughts down in her "Dear Diary". Over the years, she realized how her hobby could turn into a full time career and she started writing web content, books and pieces for local magazines. There has been no looking back ever since. Follow Jyotsna Ramani at Google+

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