What’s the world’s most poisonous tree?

The world's most poisonous tree must rely on tides and currents to disperse its fruits.

Südamerika, Pazifik, Pazifischer Ozean, Ecuador, Galapagosinseln, Galápagos-Inseln, Provinz Galápagos, Insel Santa Cruz, Manchinelbaum (Hippomane mancinella), en: manchineel tree, Hippomane mancinella, es: Manzanillo, La manzanilla de la muerte o árbol de la muerte

This dubious honour must go to the manchineel tree Hippomane mancinella, found in brackish habitats in northern South America, the Caribbean and Florida.

Advertisement

It bears an apple-like fruit, which, along with its sap, contains an eye-poppingly strong poison that can cause severe blisters if it makes contact with human skin.

Such toxicity in its fruits means that the tree can’t rely on mammals’ digestive systems to disperse its seeds, depending instead on the tides and currents of its coastal home.

Manchineel20Tree20Brett20Charlton20main-f44dcab
A warning sign on a manchineel tree. © Brett Charlton/Getty

Do you have a wildlife question you’d like answered? Email your question to wildquestions@immediate.co.uk or post it to Q&A, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Immediate Media Company, Eagle House, Bristol, BS1 4ST.

Advertisement

Main image: Machineel tree in the Galápagos Islands. © Getty