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Manchineel Tree – Beware!

The Manchineel tree is a member of the Euphorbiaceae {spurge} family. Its botanical name is Hippomane mancinella. The name is derived from the Spanish word manzanilla meaning “little apple”. In the Florida Everglades and the Caribbean coast it is called “beach apple”. The Guiness World Book of records classifies this tree as the most dangerous tree in the world. All parts of this tree including the fruit is poisonous. The medical symptoms include: contact dermatitis, blistering of the skin, conjunctivitis with blindness for up to 3 days, and severe gastrointestinal symptoms if ingested. Even burning the wood may injure the eyes. The Calusa Indians in Florida used the sap from the manchineel on their arrow tips. During a battle with the Spaniards near Charlette harbor in 1521 Juan de Leon was struck by an arrow with the poisonous manchineel sap and later died. The conquistadors referred to the tree as the manzanilla de la muerte “the little apple of death.” Since this tree likes a swampy environment such as growing between mangroves I assumed it would not grow in this area. I was surprised to find one growing in the backyard of an Ormond Beach home. It is recommended that you do not try to remove this tree but have a professional tree service do so because of its toxicity.

This article was contributed by Myrna Moore, a Master Gardener in Volusia County
			

Questions? Contact a Volusia County UF/IFAS Master Gardener:
Phone: (386) 822-5778, Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30
Email: MasterGardener@volusia.org

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