Manchineel – World’s Most Poisonous Tree

The manchineel tree, Hippomane mancinella, is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family. The manchineel is an endangered species native to Florida, Central America, Northern South America, Bahamas and in the Caribbean. It’s also a very dangerous rare flowering plant species and considered world’s most poisonous tree, dubbed ‘little apple of death’ by Spanish conquistadors.

Hippomane Mancenilla Most Poisonous Tree
Hippomane Mancenilla, Most Poisonous Tree

Burning any part of this tree release much toxic gas that is extremely harmful for humans and animals and cause blindness. Sleeping or breathing in beneath of this plant can cause skin blistering and consumption a bite of Manchineel tree is very fatal and cause agonizing death.

Manchineel - World's Most Poisonous Tree
World’s Most Poisonous Tree in Cayman Islands

Manchineel trees are often marked with signs, like this one in the Cayman Islands “Avoid contact with any part of this tree!”

Little Apple of Death

Manchineel - World's Most Poisonous Tree
Little Apple of Death, Manchineel

Spikes of manchineel tree are followed by fruits, which are similar in appearance to an apple. These fruits are green in color or greenish-yellow when ripe. The fruits are sweet in taste and the most obvious threat called “little apple of death” from Spanish conquistadors. Poison apples are just the beginning, though. It’s whole part is very poisonous for both animals, human and even birds, touching of this fruit is very harmful. According to the Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), “interaction with and ingestion of any part of this tree may be lethal.”

Famous Victim of Manchineel

The most famous victim of manchineel tree is probably conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon, who led the first European expedition into Florida in 1513. In 1521, during the battle with the Calusa in Florida, Some native Caribbean fighter used manchineel tree sap to poison their arrows. Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León was struck by manchineel tree poisonous sap arrow, where he died of his wounds.

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