We often think of them as peaceful and calm. How many homeopathic remedies will tell you to sit under a willow tree to relieve a headache, or look at a tree to calm and centre yourself and relieve stress. We never think of them as negative, let alone dangerous. Yet stories have emerged over the many years of trees in the far-reach, little known areas of the world, which devour man. With so much of the world undiscovered and so little known about everything which may exist, it stands to reason that it may not be completely impossible for such things as carnivorous trees to exist.
The earliest known reference to the man-eating tree was written by one Karl Leche and later debunked as a total hoax. Not only did Karl Leche never exist, but the tribe in the story along with the entire “incident” was also entirely fictional. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop a worldwide hunt for the “man-eating tree”. Most interest was lost when the story was proven a hoax and the writer found, however there are numerous myths and tales from tribes around the world regarding the carnivorous trees. Most recently, a story emerged on the news regarding a village near Kokkada in Uppinangady Forest which told of a cow-eating tree:
On October 18, 2007 residents of Padrame near Kokkoda in Uppinangady forest range sighted one such carnivorous tree trying to dine on a cow. According to reports, the cow owned by Anand Gowda had been left to graze in the forests.
The cow was suddenly grabbed by the branches and pulled from the ground. The terrified cow herd ran to the village, and Gowda got a band of villagers to the carnivorous tree.
Before the tree could have its meal, Anand Gowda and the villagers struck mortal blows to the branches that turned limp and the cow was rescued. Uppinangady range forest officer (RFO) Subramanya Rao said the tree was described as ‘pili mara’ (tiger tree) in native lingo.
He had received many complaints about cattle returning home in the evenings without tails. The field staff confirmed coming across a similar tree in Padrane, partially felled down.
With us knowing so little about our world (after all, only a small percentage of our oceans have even been explored as well as vast areas of land) is it so implausible that these trees and plants are nothing more than folklore? It is often said that myth and folklore have origins in truth. Just remember that the next time you stop to take a quick rest against a tree during a long hike…