Always heard of the world’s tallest tree? But did you ever hear about the world’s most dangerous tree ?
These trees are located in various places which include Florida, Caribbean and Africa – Manchineel is a tree which is about 50 ft in height and it’s fruit looks like small Apples. It lures travellers to rest under it’s long shady leaves and traps them. Moreover, the taste of its Apple-like fruit is very sweet in the start but bitter after a while.
The tree is poisonous altogether. Columbus named it ‘The Manchineel” what can be translated as – ” Little Apple of Death “. It’s sap causes blisters on the travellers who rest under it and they burn. The bark releases a smoke which may result in temporary or permanent blindness. According to Guinness Book of World Records this is the most poisonous plant on the planet. A single bite of it is enough to land you inside a hospital.
They have been marked with a huge red band or banner on their stem so that the tourists and travellers are warned regarding the dangers of this unusual dangerous tree.
Many people died because of this dangerous tree. Legend has it that one of the most infamous deaths by manchineel poison was of Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon. He returned to Florida in 1521 in search of gold and to lay claim to the area he thought he had discovered. Of course, the natives weren’t exactly going to hand over their land to him. In the struggle that took place, an arrow laced with manchineel sap struck Ponce de Leon’s leg, leading to his long drawn out death.
Nicola H Strickland wrote about her experience in Caribbean in an article. She is a consultant radiologist. “While searching for exotic shells and coral fragments, I saw some green fruits among the scattered coconuts and mangoes lying on the beach,” she wrote. “They were round, the size of a tangerine, and had apparently fallen from a large tree with a silvery bole..”
“I rashly took a bite from this fruit and found it pleasantly sweet. My friend also partook (at my suggestion). Moments later we noticed a strange peppery feeling in our mouths, which gradually progressed to a burning, tearing sensation and tightness of the throat.”
Manchineel trees are harmful and can kill people although the precautionary measures and the red bands have reduced the number of people injured significantly.