Deep down the forest, some time ,so far away that one could think it’s not reachable or out of existence, exists a revered tree across Africa and more so in Nigerian mythology. The Igbos of Nigeria origin calls this tree “Anunu Ebe”, the Yorubas calls it “Igi Nla”: This tree is referred to as the “King of the forest” – the tree under whose shade no plant can grow and on whose branches no Bird perches.
It has thus been described as a mystical tree since it does not allow other trees to survive around it. Researches done on this tree usually referred to as the “Tree of Life or Death” is minimal. Facts surrounding this tree remained controversial especially as its taxonomy remained contentious until recently as few documentaries have evolved and revealed facts about the mysterious tree.
In the study of Igbo Medicine and Mythology, this tree (Anunu Ebe) is a powerful tree. It is feared and respected. It deals decisively with the evil. It takes a brave man to get the leave of the forbidden king of all trees. It is used to prepare all sorts of charms.
Getting the leave of Anunu Ebe is said to be possible only by throwing a live-rooster at the tree with some incantations as you approach it from a distance. It is believed that no human can survive an attempt to approach the tree without going through this process. No wonder it is only Herbalists and medicine –men known for “strong charms and powerful amulets” that boasts of using parts of this tree in their work.
As unimaginable as it sounds, Anunu Ebe is said to never get influenced with corruption or evil in the course of dispensing justice. Igbo healers/herbalists and diviners revere this powerful tree as it is said to be a bold place of action with supernatural existence.
Anunu Ebe is often seen in Igbo Land as the abode of thunder or amadioha (names of gods). Furthermore, it is said to be inhabited by a male and female most powerful supernatural forces that can cause and heal. As a dominant tree of the forest, the basic things found underneath this tree are carcasses and remnants of devastated evil beings, animals and birds. As the name Anunu Ebe implies (No Bird Perches), no flying Bird can propel over this dreaded tree. Any attempt whatsoever will cause the wings of the Bird to crash.
Also in Igbo Land, Anunu Ebe is culturally enforced and fostered with the Igbo cosmology of rights and wrongs, evil and good, supernatural forces and dignity of human condition and existence including and not limited to ancestral foresights and power to progress.
Its shrub, leave and root are highly medicinal especially as the phytochemicals discovered in the bark of this tree is used to cure many ailments such as Syphilis and Leprosy among other serious ailments.
In the forest, should this tree be seen at all, it is seen alone with most of its leaves never touching the ground as they are wrapped in cobweb: Its roots, so dangerous that any other plant that comes in contact with it dies off. Every other tree around Anunu Ebe lives in fear especially as they cannot spread their leaves the same way it (Anunu Ebe) does.
The characteristics of this mysterious tree have found its way into some indigenous proverbial sayings such as this, according to the Yorubas:
“ …the thunder can strike the Baobab and shred the Iroko tree; but it dare not strike Igi Nla.”
According to the Igbos:
“Anunu-Ebe m na –aracha akpana ya – The Perch-Not Tree I Click The Droppings.”
Anunu Ebe is said to have answers to many illnesses known to our forefathers so much that it has found its way into tinctures sold in Europe and Asia.
Less than ten of the “Mysterious Tree” (Anunu Ebe) is standing in Nigeria today: while fewer are scattered in Ivory Coast and Ghana. The Congo basin also has a few more.