Leave it to the wilds of Southeast Asia to bring us this cryptozoology tale. How would you like to stroll in your garden only to be besieged by dead man’s fingers “growing” out of the soil? Is it a paranormal legend or just a monster tale from Mother Nature?
Let me introduce you to Dead Man’s Fingers, known by science as Decaisnea (photo right). It comes in two varieties, Decaisnea fargesii and Decaisnea insignis. Yes, it’s an actual plant. (Photo right.)
This cryptid plant grows in the Far East, spanning China over to Nepal, then downwards towards Myanmar. The “fingers” are actually fruit that is highly prized by the Lepcha people who live in Sikkim (an Indian state on the border with Nepal).
The fruit, the actual “dead man’s fingers,” grows about 4 inches long (10 cm) and is a little over an inch (3 cm) in diameter. The gelatinous pulp of both species is edible (photo left). The pulp from D. fargesii is similar to sweet watermelon while the pulp from D. insignis is bland. The color of the fruit ranges from a light lime color to a muted dark purple color.
The plant is described as forming deciduous shrubs but can grow into small trees topping 26 feet (8 m) with a trunk nearly 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. There are cultivated versions of this plant for use in the home garden. They grow well in cool temperatures with fertile soil that is well drained. They tolerate temperatures as low as 5 degrees F (-15 C). In the US, it’s hardy in USDA zones 4-8.
(Photo right of D. insignis interior.)
Til the next time!