I may write a lot about all the spooky locations and legends I learn about while living in Orlando, but let's behest with ourselves. The world by itself is terrifying without the help of ghost stories. And that includes Florida. In fact, Florida, for a number of reasons would be on the top of the "states to visit with caution" list.
With gators, snakes nesting in toilets, and Florida Man running the streets, this state already throws a lot at people to dodge. But did you know that, according to Guinness World Records, you can find the "World's Most Dangerous Tree" right here in South Florida, deep in the Florida Everglades.
What is "the Most Dangerous Tree in the World"?
Officially classified as Hippomane mancinella, the manchineel tree is apparently so venomous that one touch can cause the human skin to have a"breakout of blisters, and blindness can occur if it touches a person´s eyes."
And if it's raining or sunny, don't even think about standing beneath a manchineel tree, as any contact made with any manchineel trees will cause blistering and severe pain.
Why is the manchineel such a poisonous tree?
Though the manchineel tree might seem completely harmless with its waxy, long leaves and maybe a bright green beach apple-like fruit or two, but be warned. The milky sap that secretes from the manchineel is what will cause the blistering of the skin, blindness, stomach pain, and all over excruciating pain.
Also, the fruit of the manchineel, is not any ordinary fruit, and is indeed considered the most toxic part of the manchineel. A single bite of the beach apple from the manchineel tree will also cause blistering, and blindness, giving it the name "little apple of death." These toxic trees also cannot be burned, as the smoke from the tree could cause blindness. And, in rare cases, even death.
According to a legend posed by Sciencesource.com (and many others revealed through a simple Google search), the most "famous victim" of these deadly trees was the conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon. During his return to conquer the Florida Peninsula, was caught in the thigh by an arrow head dipped in the tree's sap when Calusa fighters resisted, and well, we know what happened from there.
What the poison of a manchineel fruit feels like
Famously, a radiologist named Nicola Strickland wrote in the British Medical Journal about her foolish choice to bite into the tree's fruit:
"I rashly took a bite from this fruit and found it pleasantly sweet...Moments later we noticed a strange peppery feeling in our mouths, which gradually progressed to a burning, tearing sensation and tightness of the throat. The symptoms worsened over a couple of hours until we could barely swallow solid food due to the huge obstructing pharyngeal lump."
The Benefits of the Manchineel
The good news here is that, while these toxic plants might be holding world records for "the world's deadliest trees", but they are not all bad, and have many practical every day uses. Animals such as the garrobo striped iguana that comes from Central America and South America like to eat the fruits, and the Manchineel also helps with beach erosion, and the fruits can be dried to use as a natural diuretic. Neat.
Have you heard of the Manzanilla de la muerte? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!
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