Cryptobotany is the study of various exotic plants which are not believed to exist by the scientific community, but which exist in myth, literature or unsubstantiated reports.
As with cryptozoology, the undisciplined field is associated with fringe research and is considered a pseudoscience. Folk legend and ethnic usage of plants, often as interdisciplinary research, is presented and developed for an unknown species, in the hope of allowing those species to be collected or adequately identified. Any researcher or writer can identify as a cryptobotanist, the field is surveyed within cryptozoological or other journals or with varying degrees of scepticism as a protoscience.
Many plants remain undiscovered or are yet to be classified, however cryptobotany usually focuses on fantastical plants believed to have harmful or therapeutic interactions with people. Sources of data may be secondary or scant; reports may be plausible or outlandish.
Man eating plants, most frequently inhabiting the jungles of Africa in popular fiction, may have been based on initial reports of plants that could trap and kill mammals, such as Nepenthes rajah. However, there are unconfirmed reports, primarily from Latin America, that allege the existence of still-undiscovered species of large carnivorous plants, according to British cryptozoologist Karl Shuker's book The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003).
Writers and researchers in the United States have been amongst those to seek reported or legendary plants; the 1950s and 60s saw a number of books and articles on the pyschedelic or mystical plants of South America. William Burroughs sought the telepathy inducing plant sometimes called 'Yage', finding and collecting other novel plant specimens, such as the telepathine bearing vine Banisteriopsis caapi. The ethnobotanists, Terence and Dennis McKenna, also entered the jungles of South America; taking the guidance of the local peoples to isolate species in use as hallucinogens. Ethnomycology and the associated search for reported species were abundant, entering the popular culture of the time. The earlier books of Carlos Castenada detailed his search for various psychoactive mushrooms and plants, an overlap with a western religious tradition was proposed in Allegro's, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross.