Hippomane Mancinella is its scientific name, but it is better known as ¨The tree of death¨ or ¨La manzanilla de la muerte¨, this tree enjoys the privilege of being registered in the Guinness Records. This tree grows on sandy soils with a high saline concentration in coastal regions. It extends from Florida to Colombia and is abundant on several islands in the Caribbean Sea, including the island of Margarita in Venezuela.
Manzanilla de la Muerte is a tree that can reach 20 m in height if its trunk grows straight. Still, due to its coastal distribution, it is not uncommon to collapse during its growth, adopting an almost creeping and extremely tortuous shape. The trunk and numerous branches are covered with a thick, broken, gray bark. The cup is wide and globose.
According to experts, its name is derived as follows: Hippomane comes from the Greek words hippo, which means horse, mane, mania, or madness.
Named after the Greek philosopher Theophrastus (371a.C.-287a.C.) after seeing that the horses went crazy after eating the fruit of this tree. Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, also named the tree that way in America.
Its fruit is similar to an apple and has a pleasant aroma, which is easily deceived but deadly for humans and mammals. At the same time, some reptiles feed on their fruits and live in their cups, so their consumption is Forbidden if you do not want to suffer severe diarrhea and extreme vomiting that end up causing your death.
Burning, rashes, blisters, and inflammation on the skin are the consequences that people who rub this noxious tree can suffer.
It is advisable not to be present if one of these trees were to burn, as the smoke it would give off could cause respiratory problems and, in the worst case, temporary blindness.
At some time, the tree of death was used by the natives for hunting. With the sap they covered their arrows and then hunted. In addition, in colonial times, it was used to create countless pieces of furniture.
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Due to the serious consequences that this brings to human beings, most of them have been cut, and now this species is in danger of extinction. If one day you come across one, it is unnecessary to harm it. Stay away from it, and you will eat its fruit for nothing in the world.
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