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I 2 THE OGDEN STANDARD-EXAMINER SUNDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 26, 1920.
I fcfcS: a Man-Eatioi Plant 1 a Distinguished ti " :' ;',' "' mCf-- Scientist m fS f IBJP" Madagascar and How :5f' Ps;S FVff ' - - v-J I Science Explain. 4b WfVW J I the Existence of tkc '''f T ''r fW?1' W ... SjJ Monstrous Growths I '' '''' L;f v '' ' JLJ 1 I Upon Vkick He : l;j I Has Made I Official Report "'v 1 H v Dr. ?. . William. VJ' i .V i The Distinguished American Botanist 7lv I I. KARL LE I Qi i man 1 explorer and brought back from the wllda of Madagascar one of the most amazing stories that has ever come from the African island. He has described in (he Carlsruhe Scientific Jour nal a plant which seems to bo an extraor dinary development of a certain curious form of vegetable life to which the famous Venus flytrap, or pitcher plant, and other insect catching and eating vegetation be long This plant, or tree, which he calls Crinoida Darjeena. attains, according to Dr. Leche, a size of ten feet, and is pow erful enough to enmesh and destroy a human being. The Mkodos, the tribe In Whose territory it is found, revere it as a fetich and sacrifice maidens of their tribe to it. says Leche. A Quarter of a century ago American Consuls in Madagascar mentioned this tree and sacrifices to It by natives In their reports Heforo discussing the plant from the botanical standpoint. I quote almost In full his narrative as it appears In tho Scientific Journal, which is a publication of irre- Iproacname conservatism and authority "I had gone," he writes, "to Madagascar, the land of tho lemur, the lace plant, the qye-qye, arid also of the man-eating tree, to visit Queen Ravalana II., and was per suaded to visit the Mkodos by a native who had heard that besides generous dally pay I was accustomed to reward liberally anyone who showed me something strange or out of the way. 'In his company I journeyed to the southeastern part of the island, inland among the hills covered with thick virgin forest, where there is a district practically unknown, whose white visitors can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. This is the region Inhabited by the Mkodos. "It was while among these natives that I was witness to what was probably the most horrible sight I have ever seou Their religion consists in the worship of their sacred tree, one of the most wonder ful freaks of nuture. To this treo they offer human sacrifice Once upon a time, as each was consummated, it had been their custom to burn each tree This, however, they had been forced to give up on discovering that the trees were getting to bp very scarce. When I arrived they were practically extinct, and it was with difficulty that my guide, whose wild 3torles had attracted rne to the place, could find one to show me. "The sacred tree Is most remarkable in apnearance Its trunk, which rarely rises ten feet above the ground, is of a strand, barrel-like shape, covered with a quaint mosaic ort of hark Irtnlrtn llkt. nntMntr Iso much as a gigantic pineapple. At the top of this trunk it is between eight and nine feet In circumference, and upon it is fixed a remarkable growth very much re sembling a huge plate. From the top of the trunk there hung eight leaves They were of extraordinary size, ten to twelve feet long, a foot wide where they were hinged to the tree, widening to about two feet, and finally tapering down to a point as sharp as a needle. They were plenti fully strewn with huge venomous looking thorns. "These leaves could not have been less than fifteen inches thick In the centre, and hung down inertly along the trunk, their point trailing in the earth. Above these there stretched, rigidly and horizontally, a number of branches several feet in length. Finally, from underneath the plate-like arrangement, there grew, point ing upward, half A dozen frail Inn ing stamen s palpi would be a bettor name, I be Here that shiv ered constantly, as if agitated by some strong wind. "It fec-ms the plate-like affair on top of the trunk contained some thick sweet juic This liquid which is a product of the tree and was probably origin all v intended to attract blrd. Is highly intoxicat ing, and even a very small quan tity very soon produces roma 1 How the Vsivus Flytrap Captures Insects: (1) The Fly Alighting Upon the Lc .'. (2) the Fly Is Stuck Fat Upon the iscous Suljitance with Which It la Covered and the Leaf Bepins to Curl About It; (3) the Leaf Holding the Fly Nov Securely in Place, nd (4) the Bent Plant Digesting the Insect. After ) It Has Digested, the Car- I cass of the Fly Is Dropped and the Leaf Is Opened ' for Another Victim- uen raTinees take plar- b woman is forced to climb Into the tiOe and drink. If the devil Insula U in good humor, then the girl will be al lowed to get down apaln in safety. If he was feeling ugly, however then the poor girl was out of luck Exactly how the treo was going to prevent her Jumping down ! could not make out, but I was to learn eventually. "I desired to draw elor and examine the tree carefully, but m guide begged me not to. warning me that the 'tree god would certainly be angered at my sacrl '.ege and would take my life in revenge, xj laining that tho leaves would rise up and crush me. Of course. 1 did not pay much attention to this, but, nevertheless, left the tree alone, for It has always beeu my habit Jo respect native superstitions and customs. "One evening my guide presented him self to me and told me that what Jie had been waiting for would take place that nisht. "That nisht, having made the chief a present to insure that I would be welcome to wltne.ss their ceremony, I followed the tribe into the forest The made their way to the sacred tree, and round it built twelve fires, so that the whole surround ings were lit up brightly Then they dis posed themselves about them and made themselves at home, some eating, but most Of them drinking huge gourdfuls of native ferment Very soon they were all of them more or less Intoxicated, both the men and the women, with the exception of a young girl nearby, who neither spoke nor moved, but glanced about her as if sho were terri- ncu oui oi ner w us "Suddenly without warning the yelling ceased and they scattered away like fright ened deer Tho crucial point had arrived. For a moment there was complete silence but for the crackling of the fires. Intuition told me that tho girl I had noted before was tho one that was to be the sacrifice. I looked at her and saw mortal terror im printed on her features. Yet for the life of me I could not Imagine why, and put down her fear to imagination. "By now the first group of dancers had somewhat recovered, and, suddenly spring ing up. rushod upon the poor girl with un earthly shrieks and yells They surround ed her. and with shouts and gestures or dered her to climb the tree Terrified she shrank back, apparently begging for.mercy. At that the whole crowd joined In. furi ously bowling at her to obey. Once more the dancers gave out their orders; then, i' s A Remarkable Photograph of a Rat That Has Been Caught and Killed by a Giant Species of the Pitch er Plant. In the Cup of This Plant' Is Secreted a Sweet But Stupefying Liq uid. The Rat Has Drunk of This and the Plant Has Closed Upon It and Smoth ered It, the Flanges Hold ing the Body Tightly in Place. I as she still refused and struggled, they armed themselves with spears, and stab bing at her forced her to retreat in the direction of the devil-god. For a while she resisted, seeking to hold their spears with hor hands, and only getting wounded as a reward for her plucky defence. "At last, seeing it was useless to fight further, she turned and faced the tree For a moment she stood still, gathering herself up for a supreme effort, then quick ly she sprang toward the tree. Like a monkey she scrambled up. and reaching the top knelt and drank of the holy liquid Quickly she jumped up again, and I ex pected to pee her Jump down, thinking all was over, in that dim light not noticing instantly w hat caused her so to shriek w ith terror. "Suddenly I realized what was happen ing, and I seemed to bo paralysed with (C) lO'O. International Feature Service. Inc. "The tree, seemingly so dead and motionless a moment before, had come to life. The palpi, 20 frail looking, had suddenly ceased to quiver, and had coiled themselves about the girl's head and shoulders, holding her so firmly that all her efforts to free herself remained ab- which the maddened natives fought and solutely useless. trod each other down to get one mouthful of the intoxicating fluid from the tree and the blood of the human sacrifice "Then the 'easting began again amid much rejoicing. The devil was appeased." TllO nlant floiTihH hv Tlr T.n.M,a Vine? horror The tree, seemingly so dead and motionless a nfomenl before, had come to life. The palpi, so frail looking, had sud denly ceased to quiver, and had colled themselves about tho girl's head and shoul ders, holding her so firmly that all her efforts to free herself remained absolutely useless "The green branches so rigid before be gan to writhe, and coiled themselves round and round like snakes. Then as that mass Struggled there arose a horrible slpht I shall never forget the great leaves began to rise, slowly, very slowly. Those evil looking thorns were now on the inside, pointing toward tho victim and closing on her with the force of a hydraulic press. "As they .ame together tightly there trickled down the trunk a pinkish mixture, Great Britain Kifhts Reserved. more points in common, perhaps, with the Venus flytrap tnan any other. This pecu liar specimen is found nowhere in the world except in the swampy districts of North Carolina, and even there is quite rare It subsists by catching and eating flies and other nsects. Dr George Y Crlle. professor of surgery' in tho WesterL Reserve University and our greatest war surgeon in France and author of surgical book-; on the war. Is authority upon the habits and anatomy of this plant. It is an Inconspicuous, low growing plant, peculiar to boggy places All day long Its trap-leaves stand agape, waiting for prey. On the insido surfaces of each blvalvc-Iike leaf is some sticky sweetish stuff, attractive to insects Along comes an unlucky fly. Unsuspecting he steps into one of the traps. Instantly it closes upon him with a snap and he is a "gouor." Close examination of any one of the trap-leave- 'eveals the fact that three very minute hairs spring from the middlo of the inside of each of its gaping valves. A touch upon ono of these hairs (which are cpnc.itlvp nflrvo.onrlcl makes the plant aware of the pres ence of tho fly, and the "clamshell" snaps shut If one of the hairs be touched lightly with the point of a Wd pencil tho trap will instantly close. The plant does not know tho difference; it simply reacts me chanically to the ir ritation. But the touch of the pencil must not be too light or too heavy; it must be Just enough to Imitate the contact of a By or other small insect If a smart blow be struck tho trap will not re spond at all; It stays open, Suppose, however, that it is a real fly. The trap closes, its marginal spikes in terlocking to prevent escape of the prey. Folows then a re markable phenome non. The trap be comes a miniature stomach, which at Photograph of th. Peculiar Leaves of the ?S7ti5S Venus Flytrap Opened and Closed. tion of the captured The process of digestion requires a num ber of days, during which the trap lemalns hut This being finally accomplished, it opens, drops out the refuse of the meal tho non-nutritious part and is ready for another fly. It is hungry again. Dr. Crlle says that the plant exhibits almost as much power of perception and discrimination as a frog a creature that undeniably possesses a mind. It catches flies, eats and digests them, and ejects the refuse. A frog does tho same, responding to the stimulus of the sight of a fly as tho flytrap responds to the touch of the insect If the lensitlve hairs of one of the traps be repeatedly touched in Just the right way it will enap shut again and again But not more than three or four times The energy of the plant, Mke that of man IE A Mr A Warrior of the Mkodos, the Tribe That Sacrifices Women, Ac cording to Dr. Leche, to the Ex traordinary Madagascar Plant. can be rapidly and surely exhausted by re peated stimulation. Finally, says Dr. Crile. if the plant bo exposed to the fumes of ether or chloro form, it loses consciousness for tho time being, Just like a man. and Its traps do not respond to irritation while the effect of tho anaesthetic lasts. The Juiciest and most M appetizing fly can walk all over them with- M out peril of capture. The treo described by Dr. Leche would seom to bo animated by the same mys terious reactions as activate the Venus flytrap. And this mechanism is mysterious, In- j deed' Many plants exhibit all the pheno- I - menn of nervous reactions. The common Sensitive plant, which belongs to tho Mimosa family, and which closes its leaves not only at a touch, but actually at a sud den abrupt sound, would seem to predict for that little growth not only tactUe sesJ but hearing The opening and closing 0? he human hand and the opening and clos es of the Sensitive plant leaves are p?e Clsely the same. How are these sensation, !SSSf What 15 lh SovernfnTboS; roSio'ns0""" reaCtlQS from The researches of tho famous Dr Boso I id the Hindu scientist, have recentlv ti j SHI great light upon the matter, and thev e0 far toward confirming Dr Leche's storv iJfifl By means of mapnlfleatm,, , !2.ftory- rangements of intense lights Dr Rn ? 'T''lb;"d t0 Puce actual p?ct"u?eB d "i plant's growth and life While th 1 ? W seem to have no fibre such J Pl&nta kit there is a tremendous TelZlll' Ik tween their cells The cells arl inL " a granulated nrve Tho . ' lndeed, be madu that SSgSSSS nerves may be likened to J? Dlut EJ2 are a series of small bod o "with Llll communicating impressions each fn other. What and where the direefinl , hd W J Is in a fentencrv what and k S, force HI Plant brain T one of tnJ hero 18 tn ece .tUl have to reveal my3terl Mt tetserarewwh? w?U SS7S Impossible it is to be Vnn Au 6ay u is tific expedition win .VPd that a "den. indicated b the Gcrnin l ,the place make a careful study JFK. n??101 aa4 plant. y 01 Ule eitraordjriarg j