The Manchineel Tree


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The Manchineel Tree

When admiring nature, people should look out for harmful or deadly plants that can be there. One example of a dangerous plant is the manchineel tree, which is considered as the most deadly of trees. The manchineel tree can be found on the coasts of Florida, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America. This tree excretes a very toxic sap out of every part of the tree which includes the bark, the leaves, and even the fruit.

There have been many stories about people eating the fruit of the tree and the most popular one is the story of a reporter named Nicola Strickland who went on a vacation to the Caribbean islands of Tobago. Her vacation had started just fine until they found the trees. While scavenging for shells, corals, coconuts, and mangoes, Nicola stumbled upon a small green fruit and both Nicola and her friend decided to take a bite. This was a very foolish decision as its sweet taste was rapidly replaced with an excruciating burning in the mouth and throat. Their throats also started to close up making it very difficult for them to swallow. It took around 8 hours for the pain to stop, but once the sap’s toxins went down to the lymph nodes on the neck, they experienced another episode of pain. Usually, eating the fruit kills but luckily, they only ate a tiny bit of it.

This fruit may not be eaten by adults as they know better, but kids are the ones usually eating them as they do not know the consequences of eating the fruit. The thick, milky sap has many toxins in it and it’s generally thought that the toxin named phorbol is the main cause of the reactions the body gives. If people even make contact with the sap, they will get burns like blisters on their skin and feel as if they’re being burned. The toxin phorbol in the sap can easily dilute in water so if anyone dares to stand under the tree while it’s raining, they will get severe burns on their body. Even though many want the manchineel tree to be gone they can’t just remove it as it plays an important role in the ecosystem. The tree provides a shield against the wind and it gives protection against coastal erosion. This tree is also used by carpenters, but cutting it down is not easy. Many usually burn the tree at the base to cut it down as nobody really wants to try to use an ax to cut it down. The tree also has to be dried in the sun for the toxins to be neutralized before being used.

So overall, people should generally know about a plant before eating anything from it and even if some want some things gone, it may play an important part of an ecosystem.