This is the manchineel tree. Found along southern Florida, the Caribbean coasts, and in South America, it’s one of the most dangerous plants in the world.
Just a single bite will cause agonizing pain and in many cases, death.
But that’s not the tree’s only weapon. In fact, just about every part of it is lethal, from the bark, to the leaves and sap, which can leave terrible burns on the skin.
People seeking shelter under these trees during the rain have been scalded and poisoned by rain drops running off the toxic leaves.
Smoke from burning the trees can also causes severe irritation to the skin and eyes, and can be deadly if inhaled, so don’t try using them for firewood.
The tree’s primary toxin is known as phorbol, which produces a severe allergic reaction in most people, but the tree contains dozens more that have yet to all be identified.
So if you spot a manchineel tree, make sure to stay far away. Indians in the Caribbean used the tree’s sap coat their arrowheads in poison, and were known to tie their captives to the trunk when they wanted to ensure their particularly slow and painful demise. As if nature wasn’t frightening enough already, now we have to be afraid of trees!
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