Classification: Terrestrial flora (Hyborian era)

Location/Base of Operations: Gamburu; Darfar; the Black Kingdoms of the Hyborian era

First Appearance: Conan the Buccaneer (Lancer Books, 1971);
    (in Marvel Comics, unidentified): Savage Sword of Conan I#41 (June, 1979);
    (in Marvel Comics, identified): Savage Sword of Conan I#42 (July, 1979)

Powers/Abilities: The Kulamtu are massive plants which can feed upon whole living mammals. The fronds of the plants are attracted to nearby beings and can extend to wrap around them. Once the fronds have enwrapped a human, it takes a considerable amount of strength to break free of their hold. The inside part of the fronds secretes a powerful acid which begins to break down the victim for digestion. The mouth of the Kulamtu is found at the top of the plant stalk; the fronds raise their victims up and lower them inside the mouth for digestion. The plants cannot consume bones and eventually regurgitate them.

History: (Conan the Buccaneer/Savage Sword of Conan I#42 - BTS) - At some point, the Amazons of Gamburu planted Kulamtu trees in the middle of their town square (or perhaps built the city around them?). Revering the Kulamtu like deities, the Amazons would perform ritual sacrifice by feeding living people to the plants. The plants became known as "the Devil-Trees of Gamburu."

(Conan the Buccaneer/Savage Sword of Conan I#41) - As slavers from Ghanata brought Conan, Chabela and others to Gamburu to be sold in the marketplace, Conan noticed the Kulamtu trees in the middle of what looked like an amphitheatre. Noticing piles of bones next to the plants, Conan realized something terrible went on in the amphitheatre.

(Conan the Buccaneer/Savage Sword of Conan I#42) - Queen Nzinga grew tired of Conan defending Chabela in her court and after the two slaves tried to escape from Gamburu, Nzinga sentenced them to death by the Kulamtu. Binding them up, they were placed near the Kulamtu in the amphitheatre and the Amazons sat back to watch and bet on the results but as the Kulamtu's fronds began to enwrap them, the acids weakened Conan's bonds enough that he could free his hands then tear out of the Kulamtu's grasp. Unearthing an entire Kulamtu from the ground, Conan used it as a battering ram to scatter the Amazons. Because of their worship of the creatures, the Amazons fled in terror as Conan and Chabela escaped.

(Savage Sword of Conan I#97) - While Conan was attempting to return Princess Anya to her kingdom to collect on a reward, he, Anya and Lesuthi Pa of the Wongolo rode near a grove of Kulamtu trees near a bog in Darfar. Conan recognized the trees at once and helped Anya dodge their fronds when they tried to snag her off her steed. Knowing that he and Anya were being followed by Tomak Tharn and his bandits, who also wanted Anya, Conan used pieces from her shawl to create a false trail into the Kulamtu grove. When Tomak Tharn and his men blundered into the grove they were consumed by the Kulamtu.

Comments: Created by L. Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter; adapted to Marvel Comics by Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga.

Although the concept of man-eating plants is derived from the various carnivorous plants which consume insects, it became a particularly widespread belief after an 1874 hoax article written by Edmund Spencer for the New York World, in which he claimed he there was a man-eating tree in Madagascar. Soon, man-eating plants became a staple of pulp fiction and from there, comic books. Where would fiction be today without them? Where would Plantman be? More importantly, where would Cousin Betsy be?!?

Savage Sword of Conan I#97 is set in Darfar but takes pains to note the Amazons have journeyed from Gamburu to justify their presence there. It's not impossible there could be Kulamtu in Darfar too, but at that point, why not simply set the story in Gamburu instead of Darfar?

Profile by Prime Eternal.

  The Kulamtu should not be confused with:

images: (without ads)
Savage Sword of Conan I#42, p19, pan2 (Kulamtu, main)
Savage Sword of Conan I#42, front cover (entrapping Conan, color image)

Savage Sword of Conan I#41 (June, 1979) - Roy Thomas (writer, editor), John Buscema (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks)
Savage Sword of Conan I#42 (July, 1979) - Roy Thomas (writer, editor), John Buscema (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks)
Savage Sword of Conan I#97 (February, 1984) - Michael Fleisher (writer), Pablo Marcos (pencils, inks), Larry Hama (editor)

First posted: 05/21/2020
Last updated: 05/21/2020

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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