Friday, October 30, 2009

Since tomorrow is Halloween I thought I'd post information about a fascinating, but scary tree I encountered on St. John. In the rain, you don't want to stand under the manchineel tree, one of the most poisonous plants on earth. Corrosive sap can drip and burn your skin. The tree is also called the poison guava. In 1493, Columbus' men ate the "death apples" from this tree and met their demise. Unfortunately, I didn't find anything distinct about the tree or its bark that would allow me to pick it out of a forest. Thus, without a big sign indicating its whereabouts (now I read the trees are marked with a red "X"), I could have marched under the thing countless times. Most of the information I found about this tree was on medical websites that said to seek attention immediately. Wonder what happens if you don't. I also wondered if wildlife passed under it or touched it would they suffer the same caustic burns. If so, how do they know to avoid it? It sounds like a menace the island can't get rid of.

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