Death Flower of El Banoor

From Kook Science

Death Flower of El Banoor (or Grotto Flower of Ell-Banoor) is a cryptobotanical carnivorous plant that was said to exist on an atoll in the South Pacific known locally as "El Banoor" or the Isle of Death. The original story of the flower is attributed to the 1581 log book of a Captain Hugh Arkwright, who reportedly described it as "a great, hooded flower, of weird and wondrous beauty," of such size that it could envelope a human being, and which emitted a "sleep-laden perfume" that caused the victim to fall into a dreaming stupor, during which they would be digested by the flower.

Dramatis Personae

  • Hugh Arkwright, English explorer.

The Story

The Grotto Flower of Ell-Banoor (1903)

As published in: Fink, William Wescott (1903), Echoes From Erin, New York: Knickerbocker Press, p. 183-184, .

". . . So, seeking an entrance through the coral reefs but finding none, we sailed slowly around the circular, green island to the point from which we had started. Finally the two natives, whom we had brought from a neighboring island, succeeded, by swimming and wading, in reaching the shore, where, finding the people friendly, and speaking their own tongue, they induced some of them to come out for us in their frail craft and take us ashore, which they did by winding in and out through many devious ways.
". . . What was our surprise to find that what had seemed a great, circular island embowered in semi-tropical green, was, in very truth, an ancient coral reef, in the form of a vast ring, rising from the depths of the ocean, and enclosing a placid little sea dotted with scores of enchanting and luxurious islets. . . . The natives told us of a great, hooded flower, of weird and wondrous beauty, which grew in the depths of one of their isles called Ell-Banoor, meaning forbidden-isle, or isle of death. This flower was of so great size that men might enter its mysterious depths: but woe to the one so daring! for the vast curving petals would dose around him, and, overwhelming him with their sleep-laden perfume, hold him there till life went out in enchanting dreams, and his body was consumed by absorption as food for that great carnivorous plant. Only one of all the daring men who had sought to solve the mystery of that isle of death had ever returned. That one (the father of a beautiful maiden who, with her lover, had unwittingly landed on the isle) only lived to tell the story, and then, crazed by what he had seen, and by the overwhelming odors exhaled from the flower, sprang into the sea and perished." — From the log-book of Captain Arkright, a.d. 1581.)

The Death Flower (1911)

As published in: Skinner, Charles Montgomery (1911), "Plants of Ill Renown", Myths and Legends of Flowers, Trees, Fruits, and Plants in All Ages and in All Climes, J.B. Lippincott, p. 30-31, .

We may dismiss as mythical the travelled tale of a Venus fly-trap which was magnified into quite another matter before Captain Arkright was through with it, for such tales grow larger the farther they go from their beginning. It was in 1581 that the valiant explorer learned of an atoll in the South Pacific that one might not visit, save on peril of his life, for this coral ring inclosed a group of islets on one of which the Death Flower grew; hence it was named El Banoor, or Island of Death. This flower was so large that a man might enter it — a cave of color and perfume — but if he did so it was the last of him, for, lulled by its strange fragrance, he reclined on its lower petals and fell into the sleep from which there is no waking. Then as if to guard his slumber, the flower slowly folded its petals about him. The fragrance increased and burning acid was distilled from its calyx, but of all hurt the victim was unconscious, and so passing into death through splendid dreams, he gave his body to the plant for food.

Beware the Death Flower (1912)

As published in various American newspapers in August/September 1912.

Scientists setting out to solve the mystery of the mammoth statues of Easter Island have been cautioned more or less humorously to steer clear of El Banoer, another island of the Pacific. One of the early English explorers, Hugh Arkwright, who sailed the Pacific in 1581, warned travelers against visiting El Banoer, the home of the death flower. This flower, he says, is so large that a man can stand upright inside one of its blossoms. But if he does so he will surely fall asleep, lulled by the strange fragrance it stills. Then the flower folds its petals and suffocates him. 'And so he passed into death through splendid dreams and gives his body to the death flower for food.'