Public Radio from UA Little Rock
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sap from this tree will give you blisters, eating the apple-like fruit can kill you

The manchineel tree is the most dangerous tree on the planet. A single bite of the fruit can lead to death, and touching the bark, sap or leaves results in painful blisters.
Westend61
/
Getty Images
The manchineel tree is the most dangerous tree on the planet. A single bite of the fruit can lead to death, and touching the bark, sap or leaves results in painful blisters.

A tree is trending on Reddit — because it's no ordinary tree.

The most dangerous tree on the planet can be found in Mexico, the Caribbean and Southern Florida. One touch from the tree's sap causes blisters, and a single bite of its fruit can be fatal.

Seemingly every aspect of the manchineel tree is designed to cause extreme pain and even death. The Guinness Book of World Records crowned it the most dangerous tree in the world in 2011, but scientists have long known about the manchineels' toxins.

According to one researcher, Christopher Columbus referred to the tree's fruit as "manzanilla de la muerte"; the little apple of death.

The toxins are so strong that even standing under the tree during a rainstorm can cause excruciating pain and blisters. Even burning the wood releases the toxins, which can cause blindness for those standing too close to the smoke.

The tree can reach heights of 50 feet, with toothed leaves 2 to 4 inches long. The bark is shades of red, brown and gray, and like the fruit and leaves, is also poisonous.

Indigenous people in Florida and the Caribbean used to dip arrowheads in the tree's poisonous, milky sap to kill their enemies, according to the University of Florida, and even tied others to the tree to ensure a slow and painful death.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.