I wanted to talk about this because I had no idea these things existed, so I am going to go out on a limb (pun intended) and assume that most people did not know they existed either.
What I am a talking about is toxic trees, stinging trees and poisonous plants. I am sure many of you know that there are some poisonous plants out there that if you eat them you will become very sick and in most cases die. Those are certainly scary but again the point is that you have to eat them for them to become fatal. So as long as you do not go around eating random plants to see what happens you will be fine right, WRONG! Enter the world of the Manchineel Tree.
That bastard of a tree seems like something created on another planet, or at least belongs in the movie The Happening, which was super weird. While this tree does not eat any animals it does poison the shit out of them. This article talks about how deadly this tree truly is and it is horrifying. If you don’t like reading there is also a video below. How many creatures or even animals are there on the planet that if you stand next to them long enough you will start to feel sick? This trees’ sap is so toxic that just standing under it for a period of time and breathing in the air around the tree can make you sick. If you are under it when it rains and the sap gets on your skin you will get horrific burns, and don’t even thing about eating the apple shaped fruit. While the video says that is actually taste fine it is extremely toxic. Even burning the wood, if you were able to cut it down without getting the sap on you, is a bad idea as the smoke from the fire is going to be very toxic and poisonous to humans.
While all this is certainly scary, you don’t really need to be afraid of it unless you live in Florida, the Caribbean or the surrounding South American countries as that is where the tree is found. So if you live in those areas then you should be very afraid, well sort of I guess. Again I had never heard of this tree or anything like it until recently, but what I find most fascinating is how this tree could have evolved. The article above speaks to this idea a little but I still think it is extremely bizarre. The article states that this could just be some evolution glitch or mistake. Most plants want animals to eat their fruit so they will eventually spread the seeds of the tree somewhere else in their droppings, but how can anything do that when the tree is so poisonous? In this case water helps, as this tree mostly grows in or near waterways so the small apple like fruits land in the water and are carried elsewhere. Still though what advantage did the tree gain by being to toxic?
It appears that as long as it always was near water it would be able to spread its fruit, so that aspect of its life was taken care of now it just needed to fend of pesky herbivores from eating its leaves and the fruit, which is where the toxicity comes into play. Still though if you think about it the logic is backwards. How much more efficient would the tree have been if it were not toxic. It could use both the waterways and animals, perhaps even humans, to help spreads its seeds to a much larger area. While this tree is certainly a bad apple (gosh these puns are great) there are still others that are even more scary.
Enter Australia the land of infinite things that can kill you from spiders, to snakes, to Great White Sharks, to Jellyfish, and now add trees to that list. (Remind me never to go to Australia without a fully functional Hazmat suit.) This articles talk about one of those trees known as the Gympie Gympie Tree and its stinging barbs. I may have been a little over the top with the death talk, you can die from the stings, but only in extreme cases. If you are stung just be ready to be in excruciating pain for a long while. This tree is covered from leaf to trunk in tiny barbs that contain a toxin called moroidin. These needles can also become airborne and anyone walking by can inhale them causing major problems. I think we can all agree that coming in contact with this tree is a bad idea, but can you imagine accidentally using a leaf for toilet paper?
In 1994, Australian ex-serviceman Cyril Bromley described how he happened to fall into the tree during military training. He was subsequently strapped to a hospital bed for three weeks and administered all sorts of treatments that proved unsuccessful. He described it as the worst period of his life, when the pain made him ‘as mad as a cut snake’. He also told the story of an officer who shot himself after using a leaf for ‘toilet purposes’.
Again I have to wonder her how or why did this tree develop this type of defense system. And for that matter it does not say that this tree grows near water to how then would it disperse its seeds if it was so toxic to everything in its vicinity. Evolution is certainly interesting but you have to wonder how such things evolve and for what purpose?
Things to take away from this post, never ever visit Australia and if you live there you should leave right now, and stay away from trees they might kill you.
And for no reason at all, just in case you were wondering here is how you kill an octopus…