The “Death Apple” Is the Most Dangerous Tree in the World

Whether you climb them, sit under them, or pick fruit from them, trees are one part of nature that's easy to love. However, love isn’t exactly what you’ll feel if you get too close to a manchineel tree. Known as the most dangerous tree in the world, it’s found along the sandy beaches and mangroves in tropical climates stretching from Florida to the Caribbean, and down into parts of Central and South America. A manchineel’s small apple-like fruit definitely won’t keep the doctor away. In fact, it packs such a powerful punch that the Spanish conquistadors called it “little apple of death.” The ominous name may sound extreme, but history shows that indigenous peoples used the sap to poison their arrows and contaminate the water supply of invading Spaniards. While there are no reported instances in modern botanical literature of anyone dying from ingesting the innocent looking fruit, if you were to bite into it, the sweet taste would quickly turn quite painful — and we're not talking about the uncomfortable burn of eating a super-hot pepper. The manchineel fruit will cause intense burning and severe swelling of your throat. The area around your mouth may get inflamed and blister, and potentially severe digestive problems can ensue. Unfortunately, the danger doesn’t stop there. Just touching the leaves — even briefly — will cause blistering lesions on your skin. If you get any of the sap — or smoke from burning the wood — in your eyes, you’ll likely experience temporary blindness. The only animal that’s immune to the tree’s poison is the garrobo — a type of iguana — which has the tree all to itself.