The man-eating tree is any legendary, fictional or cryptid carnivorous plant that has the ability to consume or attack any large animal, often humans or other large mammals. The origin of the man-eating plant as a cryptid is for certain, however, the first well known documented report on the plant(s) occurred in the late 19th century. It was during this time period in which the scramble for Africa gave rise to speculation as explorers began reporting cryptids from deep within Africa or America, often mistaking an animal for the cryptid or elaborately developing the creature as a hoax, such as what happened in 1881.
In 1881, the South Australian Register published an account in which German explorer "Carl Liche" reported a story of the Madagascar Tree. In it he stated the "Mkodo" people that inhabited the area ritually sacrificed people to the tree;
"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."
The story was backed up 43 years later by Chase Osborn, the former governor of Michigan. In a book he authored called Madagascar, Land of the Man-eating Tree, he stated that all the tribes on Madagascar and missionaries that visited the island knew about the Madagascar Tree and hid information about the location of it.
However, in 1955, German-American science author Willy Ley determined in his book, Salamanders and other Wonders, that the Mkodo tribe, the Madagascar tree and even Carl Liche were either hoaxes or fabrications.