Posted September 17th, 2008, 12:59 PM
Once in a while I try to post this for anyone who isn't aware of the poisonous trees that grow on the beaches of the Caribbean islands.
It's better to be safe than sorry, and I feel that it's an important thing to know.
Many years ago, one of my shipmates sat under this tree during a rain shower, on a beach at Tortola, and her skin became very blistered from the runoff.
Here is the warning again for those who haven't heard about the Machineel trees.
One particular toxic plant worth mentioning is the manchineel tree, Hippomane mancinella, also known as the beach apple or death apple. This tree grows on the shores of islands and coastlines of the Caribbean Sea. A large deciduous tree that has a small green apple-like fruit, it is considered to be one of the most poisonous plants on earth. Given this distinction, it is a tree worth being able to recognize when traveling in this part of the world. Do not sit under it, even during a rain storm, as the droplets of water falling off it contain enough toxic latex to cause a severe contact dermatitis. For the same reason do not touch the leaves, the bark, or burn the wood. The apple-like fruit of the tree contains a potentially deadly poison. The two adventurers mentioned in the preceding paragraph might well have expired from their experimental taste-test.
This tree contains tigliane phorbol esters. Skin contact can cause blistering, burns, erythema, swelling, and inflammation. If ingested, it will cause burning and swelling of the oral mucosa, esophageal ulcerations, edema, and cervical lymphadenopathy, making it impossible to swallow, difficult to talk, and hard to breathe.
Treatment consists of cleansing the skin with soap and water to remove the plant latex, being careful to avoid further exposure and using antihistamines to minimize the immune response and the edema.