Ah, the manchineel. It offers deceptively sweet fruit, but these are known in their native habitat as the manzanilla de la muerta, the “little apples of death”. The fruits have been reported to taste pleasantly sweet, before causing hours of agony(and sometimes death) after one bite…one feels a strange peppery feeling in the mouth, which gradually progresses to a burning, tearing sensation and tightness of the throat, until breathing and swallowing becomes almost impossible. Consumption of the apples also causes abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding and digestive tract damage.
This species of tree is endangered, but so is anyone who messes with it, because it is one of the most poisonous trees on earth. The entire manchineel tree–bark, leaves and the milky sap–is toxic, according to the Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Interaction with and ingestion of any part of this tree may be lethal.The sap scorches the skin; even runoff from the rain can cause burns.