posted on May, 16 2009 @ 05:08 PM
The Umdhlebi is a supposedly evil, cryptobotanical tree. It was first recorded, and last recorded, by Reverend G.W. Parker in the magazine
on November 2nd, 1882 in Zululand, South Africa.
Parker claimed that the Zulu tribes would sacrifice sheep and goats to the evil tree.
Here is some of the article that Parker had written for the magazine:
Parker, G. W.
Nature, Volume 27, Issue 679, pp. 7 (1882).
There are two species, in both the leaf is lanceolate, dark green, glossy, hard, and brittle, and from both a thick milky juice exudes, while the
fruit is like a long black pod, red at the end. One species is a tree with large leaves, and peculiar looking stem, the bark hanging down in large
flakes, showing a fresh growth of bark underneath: in the words of my informant, ``What a villainous-looking tree! nasty, rough, ugly!'' The other
species is a shrub, with smaller leaves, and the bark not peeling off the stem. Both species are said to possess the power of poisoning any living
creature which approaches it; the symptoms of poisoning by it being severe headache, blood-shot eyes, and delirium, ending in death. The person
affected dies either in delirium, or instantaneously without any delirium. A superstition is connected with this plant. Only a few persons in Zululand
are supposed to be able to collect the fruits of the Umdhlebi, and these dare nut approach the tree except from the windward side. They also sacrifice
a goat or a sheep to the demon of the tree, tying the animal to, or near the tree. The fruit is collected for the purpose of being used as the
antidote to the poisonous effects of the tree from which they fall-for only the fallen fruit may be collected. As regards habitat, these trees grow on
all kinds of soil, not specially on that which exudes carbonic acid gas, but the tree-like species prefers barren and rocky ground. In consequence of
this superstition, the country around one of these trees is always uninhabited, althongh often fertile.
No species similar to the Umdhlebi has ever been found. More information summarized from the original Nature article about the tree's powers:
Parker said the Umdhlebi poisoned animals that approached so that the natural process of decay would fertilize the soil in which it was growing.
Symptoms of the tree's poison reportedly included headache and bloodshot eyes, followed by delirium and then death. Parker never identified the
source or nature of its poison, but hypothesized that it secreted a poisonous gas from the soil around its roots.
Some more information from Nature:
THE following note (the original article, not included on link but included above) has been communicated to us by the Rev. Dr. Parker, a well-known
missionary in Madagascar. The story reminds one of the old myth about the Upas in Java. No light can be thrown upon it at Kew, but perhaps in the
pages of NATURE it might meet the eye of some person who could give some more information about it.
Some research on the Upas in Java:
Stories of Upas seemed to have started in 1780. More information at the following link.
Having hastily picked up some vague information concerning the Upas, he carried it to Europe, where his notes were arranged, doubtlessly by a
different hand, in such a form as, by their plausibility and appearance of truth, to be generally credited.
But though the account just mentioned, in so far as relates to the situation of the Poison Tree, to its effects on the surrounding country, and to the
application said to have been made of the Upas on criminals in different parts of the island, as well as the description of the poisonous substance
itself, and its mode of collection, has been demonstrated to be an extravagant forgery, - the existence of a tree in Java, from whose sap a poison is
prepared, equal in fatality, when thrown into the circulation, to the strongest animal poisons hitherto known, is a fact, which it is at present my
object to establish and to illustrate.
The tree which produces this poison, is called Antshur, and grows in the eastern extremity of the island.
The upas is not a cryptobotanical tree. It is commonly used and seen today. The question is, how is it related to the cryptobotanical Umdhlebi tree?
Is there such thing as the Umdhlebi?
[edit on 5/16/2009 by ravenshadow13]