FLORIDA (WFLA) – When you think of all the dangerous things that reside in Florida, trees probably don’t come to mind, but the state is actually home to the “most dangerous” tree in the world.
The manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella), according to the Guinness World Records, is the world’s most dangerous tree.
Located on the Caribbean coast and the Gulf of Mexico, including Florida, the tree should be avoided since it produces a dangerous, milky sap that can cause “burn-like blisters and even temporary blindness from irritants carried in the smoke of this tree’s burning wood,” according to the Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The toxic sap can flow from the leaves, twigs, bark and fruit.
“Carib Indians and other Indigenous peoples have long used the sap to poison arrows,” according to Britannica, “and it is thought that the explorer Juan Ponce de León possibly died from such a weapon during his second trip to Florida.”
During a rainstorm, anyone who stands beneath the tree is subject to blistering skin and pain if the raindrops contain any sap.
Though the trees’ green apple-like fruit resembles a green crab apple, people should refrain from eating it because one bite of the fruit can cause blisters, severe pain and can even prove fatal.
The fruit, which smells sweet and grows in singles or in pairs, has a color ranging from yellow to reddish.
“Nearly all parts of the plant are considered poisonous and contain a number of toxins,” according to Britannica. “Its attractive applelike fruits have poisoned Spanish conquistadors, shipwrecked sailors, and present-day tourists.”
The Spanish dubbed the poisonous tree “arbol de la muerte,” or tree of death, according to the Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.