The Madagascar Version
1800s Map of Uncharted Madagascar
|Country||South America, Madagascar, India|
|Habitat||Of the Strange Prehistoric Forests Unique to Madagascar|
The Ya-te-veo is said to be a carnivorous plant that grows in parts of Central and South America with cousins in Africa and on the shores of the Indian Ocean. There are many different descriptions of the plant, but most reports say it has a short, thick trunk and long tendril-like appendages which are used to catch prey. Some even claim it has an eye to locate its prey with.
The natives feared it as if it had bad omens and was thought to be the work of evil witch doctor magic. In 1881, intrepid explorer Carl Liche told the tale of a terrible tree; The Ya-Te-Veo that would feast upon the Mdoko tribe of Madagascar. The German gave a gruesome account of his encounter as the plant slobbered on a filly: “… 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.”
- Main article: The Madagascar Tree
The NY World claimed to have obtained its information about the man-eating tree from "the last number of Graefe and Walther's Magazine, published at Carlsruhe," in which there was a letter from the discoverer, the "eminent botanist" Karl Leche, to a colleague, Dr. Omelius Friedlowsky. Most of the NY World article consisted of the text of Leche's letter.
In the letter, Leche described how while traveling through Madagascar he came into a region of the country occupied by the Mkodos, "a tribe of inhospitable savages of whom little was known."
As Leche and his party walked along, they noticed that members of the Mkodos tribe were silently emerging from the jungle and following behind them. They came to a spot where a stream wound through the forest, and here they encountered "the most singular of trees." Leche provided a detailed description of it.
South American Version
The tree is said to live on the secluded and rarely-visited Tepui – a high and misty mesa in the Guiana Highlands of South America – where grows a singular shrub known to the native tribes as the Ya-te-veo or “I See You” Tree, which evolution has endowed with a prediliction for human flesh.
J.W. Buel gives us this description of this abomination in his seminal work, Sea and Land (1887):
“Travelers have told us of a plant, which they assert grows in Central Africa and also in South America, that is not contented with myriad of larger insects which it catches and consumes, but its voracity extends to making even humans its prey. This marvelous vegetable Minotaur is represented as having a short, thick trunk, from the top of which radiate giant spines, narrow and flexible but of extraordinary tenaciousness, the edges of which are armed with barbs, or dagger-like teeth. Instead of growing upright, or at an inclined angle from the trunk, these spines lay their outer ends upon the ground, and so gracefully are they distributed that the trunk resembles an easy couch with green drapery around it. The unfortunate traveler, ignorant of the monstrous creation which lies in his way, and curious to examine the strange plant, or to rest himself upon its inviting stalk approaches without a suspicion of his certain doom. The moment his feet are set within the circle of the horrid spines, they rise up, like gigantic serpents, and entwine themselves about him until he is drawn upon the stump, when they speedily drive their daggers into his body and thus complete the massacre. The body is crushed until every drop of blood is squeezed out of it and becomes absorbed by the gore-loving plant, when the dry carcass is thrown out and the horrid trap set again.”
Moral of the story: When wandering the jungles of South America, do not sit on any inviting but unidentified stumps.
In Popular Media
- It appears in the video game, Zoo Tycoon 2: Paranoia Reborn mod as foliage.