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
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.
The Black spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura similis). Image by Christian Mehlführer via Wikicommons BY-2.5
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.
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.
Biblehub.com -- Genesis 2:17