Did you know there is a tree on St. John’s East End that can kill you? It’s true! Introducing today’s island tidbit…
If you have driven down Centerline Road (Route 10 on the map), you probably noticed a large warning sign beside the road at Haulover Bay. The sign is there to alert passersby of the nearby manchineel tree, the most poisonous tree in the world.
The manchineel tree is poisonous in many ways, so you should really keep a good distance from it. Its small fruits resemble an apple, however eating one can be very problematic, even fatal. The name “manchineel” (sometimes written “manchioneel”) as well as the specific epithet mancinella, is from Spanish manzanilla meaning little apple, according to snaplant.com. A present-day Spanish name for the manchineel tree is manzanilla de la muerte or “little apple of death.”
I actually had an island tour guest earlier this year who mistakenly ate a bite of a manchineel while on vacation on another Caribbean island. She said its first bite was sweet, but then she had a very peppery taste in her mouth. She soon felt an intense burning and tightness in her throat. Fortunately she only had one small bite, and she recovered.
The manchineel’s milky white sap is incredibly caustic as well. This is definitely one tree that you do not want to stand under during a rainstorm! Even one drop can cause skin blisters, swelling or burns. Even its bark is poisonous. Burning it releases a smoke that can cause temporary or even permanent blindness. So in a nutshell, stay far away from this one. There is a reason it holds the Guinness record for world’s most dangerous tree.
Now you may be wondering why the tree is still standing in the Virgin Islands National Park. It’s because it’s on the endangered species list.
Here is an up close pic of the leaves and the fruit just so you 100 percent do not go near it…
We had a second marked manchineel tree on the road to Annaberg prior to Hurricane Irma in 2017. That presumably blew away during the storm.
Want to see just how close this tree is to the road and also to Haulover South? Check out this quick video we took below…
Pretty interesting stuff, right? I hope you are enjoying our Island Tidbits! Have a great day!
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