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Monster of the Week: Ya-te-veo

Illustration of the Ya-te-veo plant from the book "Sea and Land."
Sea and Land by J. W. Buel (public domain)

Not all cryptids are animals. Throughout the centuries, there have been descriptions of bizarre plants, some of which are rumored capable of eating small mammals and even human beings. There are many examples of carnivorous plants in nature, but these plants tend to feed on small animals, typically insects and other type of arthropods. Charles Darwin documented such plants in his 1875 book Insectivorous Plants.

Some people in Africa and Central America claim that there are huge carnivorous plants. One such plant is known as that Ya-te-veo (Spanish for “I see you now”), a tree- or bush-like plant with long, ropey stems that resemble tentacles. These appendages can reach out and trap prey, with the plant “digesting” the animal’s nutrients for its own use. Typical prey for this plant consists of birds and rodents, but the creature has been known to trap and consume humans. In 1887, J.W. Buel described the Ya-te-veo in his novel Sea and Land.

To attract prey, some say that the Ya-te-veo creates “leaves” or colorful “berries” on its vines, although these leaves or berries have no taste or use. Some say the creature has a massive maw at the center of its trunk, whereas others claim that the tendrils each have tiny mouths with fangs. There are still others who claim that the tree uses its tendrils to squeeze the essential nutrients from its prey. This latter way of “eating” is especially horrifying, as it can take the tree several days or even weeks to consume its prey. During part of that time, the prey is still very much alive.

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