The Tree Of Death -- You Could Die By Just Standing Close To It

in #steemstem2 years ago (edited)

Introduction

24739749515_5e026d6957_b.jpg

The Manchineel Tree Image by Marianne Serra via Flickr CC0

The Bible bears record of a tree which was placed in the middle of the garden Eden, of which Adam and Eve were instructed not to eat of its fruit. According to the Bible in Genesis 2:17, if they were to eat of its fruit, they would surely die. Was this tree real, some believe, some don't.

But, there's actually a tree which could kill you by just standing close to it, so eating of it would mean something more disastrous!

Ever heard of the Manchineel Tree?.

The Manchineel tree in 2011 made it's appearance in the Guinness book of World Records as the world most dangerous tree. The scientific name for the Manchineel Tree is called Hippomane mancinella, given to it by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus. The Manchineel Tree has some closely resembles an apple tree making so it is often referred to as a Beach apple or Poison guava. It could be found mostly in the States, precisely in the marshes of Florida. Having said all this let's look deeper into what qualities earned the the Manchineel tree a place in the Guinness Book Of World Records.

The Manchineel Tree

Hippomane_mancinella_(fruit).jpg

Hippomane mancinella fruit Image by Hans Hillewaert via Wikicommons BY-SA 3.0

Central America, Mexico and Southern Florida are homes to the very famous manchineel tree which has been accrued the name Tree Of Death due to it's level of toxicity; any form of interaction with it is dangerous, let alone consuming it. The appearance of the manchineel tree takes the figure of an evergreen apple tree with height up to fourty nine feets (49ft), that's about fifteen metres (15m). The colour of the bark of the tree is reddish greyish while it's flowers are greenish yellow with green shinny leaves. It belongs to the family - Plantae and is of the Hippomane Genus. The tree packs a whole lot of milky thick sap which is found on virtually every part of it, from the bark to the leaves and even it's fruit; this thick milky sap is responsible for it's poisonous sting as it contain a whole lot of toxins and also an organic compound called phorbol. Phorbol according to Wikipedia is very much soluble in a good number of polar organic solvents, and also in water: so in the case of the manchineel tree, it will lead to an added risk exposure during the period rainfall whereby liquid splashing from the tree would be very injurious. In addition, mere contact with the water which carries the zap from the could lead to inflammation of the skin as well as severe burns and blisters.

Although mere contact with the manchineel tree leaves proof enough to show that the tree is evil, the real evil is seen and made manifest when it's fruit is consumed. If you have ever read anything on the Manchineel tree, then the story of Nicola H Strickland, a consultant radiologist, who happened to have ingested a small bit of the fruit alongside her friend wouldn't be totally new to you. She is recalled saying in her narrative, that just a bite of this fruit was able to bring about some sort of retentive tightening of the throats, severe vomiting and diarrhea and then dehydration of the body. For those of us who are new to this, I will drop a link of Strickland's narrative at the end of this article just to give us a broader view of the topic in discuss. In addition to making contact with its zap, inhalation of the smoke from its burns could bring about temporary blindness and disturbance to the mucous membranes and eyelids. It is due to this reason that people who make use of it's wood for carpentry try as much as possible to make sure it's properly sunned so as to neutralize it's toxins, as well as put up caution signs around areas where they grow.

For humans, the manchineel tree is definitely something to be cautious of since a lot of people love apples, but then does these mean that the Manchineel Tree has nothing positive in store, well let's find out.

One Animal's Food Is Another Animal's Poison

One man's food is another man's poison

Well, I was quite certain this would only be a conventional sub-title, so I decided to try out a new one, lol.

In all work on The Manchineel Tree, it's quite glaring the fact that this tree and everything associated with it is very dangerous to the human race, but as it is popularly said one man's food is another man's poison -- iguanas which have their habitat in the Central and Southern parts of America have very different reactions to the toxins from the Manchineel Tree as they have over time been spotted having a good meal from the fruits of the Manchineel Tree as well as taking rest on it. So it absolutely counters any death threats from either of the two mediums; contact and consumption. We could say this is of added advantage to the iguanas, not to humans.

The Calusa people (an aboriginal tribe native of Florida), made use of arrows of which it's tips were been rubbed around with it's nefarious leaves, to kill their enemies and also for hunting. Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish explorer was said to have died some moments after being struck by one of this arrow in battle with the calusa people in Florida.

The Manchineel Tree can be extremely dangerous but then, they play a very important role in the ecosystem, this is seen in the place of soil erosion with their high tenacious roots. Being an extremely large shrub, the Manchineel Tree also play the role of windbreaking.

Conclusion

The Manchineel Tree, accrued the name Tree of death, could be very dangerous to mankind, but just as it is with most things in existence, there is always a positive and negative side to it. In as much as the sap from the tree can kill instantly, the gum derived from the back of the tree could also be used as a treatment for venereal diseases (but of course, this is in traditional medicine practice).

What's your take on this tree, do you think it's the tree in the garden of Eden, let's share our views in the comment box below.

Here's the link to Strickland's detailed account of her horrendous experience in a letter to the British Medical Journey.

Thanks For Reading
@gidionline

References
Biblehub.com -- Genesis 2:17

Wikipedia.org -- Phorbol

Wikipedia.org -- Manchineel

Guinnessworldrecords.com -- Most dangerous tree

Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov -- Eating a manchineel “beach apple”

Regionalconservation.org -- Hippomane mancinella L.
Manchineel

Sciencealert.com -- This Tree Is So Toxic, You Can't Stand Under It When It Rains

Atlasobscura.com -- Do Not Eat, Touch, Or Even Inhale the Air Around the Manchineel Tree

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Hello! I find your post valuable for the wafrica community! Thanks for the great post! @wafrica is now following you! ALWAYs follow @wafrica and use the wafrica tag!

inhalation of the smoke from its burns could bring about temporary blindness

That is extreme! Being poisoned by eating a toxic fruit can be common, but being blinded by the smoke is much more serious.

Dangerous trees like that one should be eliminated in my opinion.

made use of arrows of which it's tips were been rubbed around with it's nefarious leaves

That's very ingenious, sometimes it is surprising the amount of knowledge aboriginal people have.

What's your take on this tree, do you think it's the tree in the garden of Eden

For me, I think this tree is simple something poisonous and it probably have no good use in our modern life.

We share the same view on this, this are the kind if things which shouldn't be in existence.. It's has no natural value.
Thanks for dropping by @dedicatedguy -- your input is very much appreciated.

Hey @gidionline
You here again with a wonderful article.
This Manchineel Tree, it's less important in a time like this except to the iguanas just as you have mentioned.
A good thing warning signs are put up on it -- I love apples.
Thanks for sharing.

Lol @vanillah -- thanks for swinging by again.
Read your piece,
join the community.

I guess the black spiny-tailed iguana's are the only existing specie which derive much benefit from this tree.

Ever heard of the Manchineel Tree?.

Sounds more like Machinery. Created specially for destruction. Thanks for educating me.

Lol @gee1, who knows -- they just might be, natural machines.
Glad I could educate, and thanks for swinging by.

I am just glad signs are placed on them. It sounds really scary.

...evil tree@annieben.
scary is way too nice for this tree.

Thanks for visitiπg

This is serious and informative. Thanks for sharing.

Lol @desmonddesk

This is serious and informative

Dunno what to call this, but sounds like a fine figure of speech... Thanks for swinging by.

that's about fifteen metres (15mm).

Hey bro @gidionline, the unit should be (15 m)

Phorbol according to [Wikipedia] is very much soluble in a good number of polar organic solvents

Also, I'm guessing you intended to make [Wikipedia] a hyperlink. If so, kindly check it again.

people who make use of it's wood for carpentry try as much as possible to make sure it's properly sunned so as to neutralize it's toxins, as well as our up caution signs around areas where they grow.

I was intrigued to see that people could still find a use for any part of this poisonous tree. Man's quest for survival beats me everytime.

Thanks for this article. I really learned a lot.

Thanks for dropping by @writeit.
Corrections has been made, just some typographical errors -- your input is very much appreciated.

I was intrigued to see that people could still find a use for any part of this poisonous tree. Man's quest for survival beats me everytime.

The quest for survival, I guess it runs in our genes

Great post with so much useful information! I really like how deep you took us into the explanation of this tree that could be deadly to humans.
Ivy

@socent... I appreciate the help -- thanks for dropping by dear.

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Hmmmm.... Quite amazing!
The tree of death, never heard or read about this before

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