Most Dangerous Trees You Should NEVER Touch
Coming up are the most dangerous trees you should never touch!Nature
Not all trees are safe for humans to touch! Believe it or not, some trees are so hazardous that even standing too close can be a death sentence! There are trees that produce deadly poisons, trees with trunks lined with thorns, and trees whose seeds explode with the force of a hand grenade! Let's explore some of the world’s most dangerous trees and plants that you should never, ever touch!
Manchineel, The Little Apple Of Death
If you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself relaxing on the beaches of the Caribbean, you might think the trees lining the coast could provide some well-earned shade.
But, if you notice that these trees are marked with a series of red bands, you need to pick up your towel and your water wings and run away from there as fast as you can! That’s because this is the Manchineel Tree; one of the most toxic trees in the entire world.
The milky white sap the tree excretes is packed full of skin irritants which are strong enough to cause blisters on contact, and even 2nd degree burns! The irritants in this sap are so dangerous, that if even a drop were to land in your eye, it could cause blindness.
And that’s just the beginning. The sap can dilute into rainwater, making it dangerous to even stand underneath as the solution drips off wet leaves! And if this tainted rainwater evaporates and you breathe it in, it’s still strong enough to irritate and burn your lungs!
The effects of this sap are so lethal, locals have taken to marking any Manchineel trunk’s with red bands, and even adding warning signs to clearly show people need to stay well away.
Furthermore, it also produces a small, green fruit which is known locally as the ‘beach apple’; a misleadingly sweet name for a potentially fatal fruit!
Take it from Nicola, a British tourist, who took a bite out of the green tangerine-sized fruit that looks just like a small apple while on holiday. Though at first it was pleasantly sweet, moments later she was gripped by a burning pain in her throat.
It was so intense it left her completely unable to swallow, and the excruciating tearing pain in her throat lasted for several hours. The only relief she could find was through chugging down gallons of cold pina coladas!
That’s certainly one way to make it a memorable vacation. But Nicola was lucky. Others who have accidentally ingested the fruit have suffered from inflamed and blistered mouths, as well as severe digestive problems!
So, if you see a strange fruit on a Caribbean beach that doesn’t have a cocktail umbrella poking out of it, avoid it at all costs!
The Strychnine Tree
If you walked by this tree, you’d be forgiven for thinking that its big bulbous fruits were some sort of oranges. But if you peeled one apart, you’d learn very quickly that these ain’t your average oranges.
If you went even further and decided to chow down on this fruit, there’s a chance you wouldn’t live to tell others about it. That’s because this is the Strychnos Nux Vomica, more commonly known as the Strychnine Tree.
Strychnine is a potent poison, which is found throughout the entire tree, though most notably in the seeds. If ingested in large amounts, strychnine can cause involuntary skeletal-muscle contractions, which you have no control over.
The muscles can convulse, tightening and flexing uncontrollably to the point where a person’s head, neck and spinal column seize into a bridging arch position. That may sound like a yoga pose but you shouldn't be practicing it, because the continual strain of this position ultimately results in asphyxiation!
The tree itself is native to India and Southeast Asia, and amazingly it’s credited as limiting the spread of the bubonic plague to these regions. That’s because its fruits decimated the European rat populations that carried the deadly virus to these lands.
Today, the strychnine tree is still predominantly used as a source of rat poison and it’s best to leave this one to the rats!
Brutal Bunya Pines
Australia, the country where just about everything can kill you! If you’re brave enough to go for a walkabout in the woods, and are really careful, you may think you’re safe from anything dangerous like snakes or spiders. But be sure to look up, because even the trees are dangerous down under!
Typically growing to heights of more than 100ft, with rigid and sharp leaves, Bunya Pines are ancient trees which have stuck around since the Jurassic era, 199 million years ago!
Protective gear must be worn when handling the leaves or branches, but the leaves are the least of your problems! Between the months of December and March, these trees shed massive pinecones weighing up to 40 pounds each. That’s a seed the weight of an average 5-year-old, which can fall from the height of a 9-story building!
You wouldn’t want to be standing underneath that tree when it happened, like Sean Mace was. Back in 2015, Sean was resting under a Bunya pine when, out of nowhere, a 16-pound pinecone fell right on his head!
That might sound sort of funny, but Sean required two major surgeries and the impact left him with likely irreversible brain damage. Not exactly a laughing matter. As frightening as that is, Bunya pinecones aren’t entirely terrible. The seeds within are edible and make up a stable part of the diet of many indigenous Australians.
Many trees still bore the carved hand and foot holds used by the aboriginal peoples to harvest the Bunya pinecones, as they weren’t foolish enough to wait for them to drop on their heads!
Just from looking at the next terrifying tree, you probably don’t have to be told to keep your hands off it, unless you’re looking to add a few huge new holes to your palms! This is the Sandbox tree, a natural nightmare native to the tropical regions of the U.S and South America.
Growing up to 100 ft tall, the Sandbox Tree also goes by the nickname of the monkey no-climb tree. That’s, pretty obviously, because its bark is covered in sharp, dagger like spikes that can grow to more than an inch long.
To make it even worse, the tree secretes a sap that is a potent irritant, strong enough to blind anyone unlucky enough to get it in their eyes. This tree is not playing around, but why is it so nightmarish?
It’s all to protect its precious fruit, which look like tiny, adorable pumpkins! However, once the soft flesh withers away it leaves behind hardened, dried seed capsules that are the botanical equivalent of hand grenades!
When fully mature, the seeds drop to the ground and explode, flinging their hard, flattened seed capsules at speeds of up to 150 mph! This disperses the seed capsules far away from the parent tree to provide them with ample resources to germinate and grow!
However, it has been reported that the seed explosions sound as loud as a gunshot! And with its seedy shrapnel firing that fast, I’d make sure not to be in that line of fire, if I were you!
it’s not just trees that make up our world’s frightening flora! Back in Australia, a deceptively dainty dark green plant with heart-shaped leaves and a fuzzy white fur looks like it would make the perfect addition to a valentine’s bouquet!
But it’s much more likely to leave you forever alone. This is the Gympie-Gympie plant, also commonly known as The Stinging Tree. Those delicate white hairs are in fact needles laced with moroidin, a powerful neurotoxin that causes excruciating pain.
But the worst part is that it doesn’t degrade over time, leaving victims suffering for days, months, or even years if the Gympie needles are not removed from the skin! The burning pain is so bad, local legends have described horses stung by this plant as being driven mad and running off cliffs to end their pain!
Entomologist and ecologist Marina Hurley, while conducting a study of the plant, described the sting as the “worst kind of pain you can imagine, like being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time!”
Others have described the sting as equivalent to 30 wasps’ stings. Even standing near the Gympie-Gympie is a hazard, because the fine needles can break off in the breeze and, if you breathe them in, they’ll wreak havoc on your respiratory system!
Pisonia, The Tree That Kills Birds
While the Caribbean’s Manchineel tree holds the official title of The Most Dangerous Tree in the world, it isn’t the Caribbean’s only unsafe shrub. Called the Pisonia Tree, the thick canopies of these trees encourage birds to nest inside their branches.
Like many plants, the Pisonia relies on animals to carry its seeds far away from the parent plants so that they don’t end up directly competing for resources. As such, the Pisonia releases sticky, gooey seeds that adhere themselves to the bird’s feathers. Pretty smart!
But, somewhere in the Pisonia’s plan, something went really, really wrong. The pods are so sticky that the birds become completely incapacitated, with some lugging around more than 200 seeds!
Left flightless, unable to move, or even free themselves, the poor birds eventually succumb to starvation, fatigue, or become prey to opportunistic predators. The most worrying part though is that botanists have no idea why the tree does this!
Scientists conducted several studies and concluded that the tree obtains absolutely no benefit from its bounty of dead birds. Perhaps it is a mechanism the tree evolved to combat predators that have now gone extinct? Or it’s an evolutionary genetic quirk that has just gone too far? It’s either that, or this tree just really hates birds!
There’s an old, urban legend that coconuts kill more than 150 people per year, by falling out of trees at a great height and cracking them on the head. Fortunately, though, this is totally false.
It’s a fabricated statistic popularized by shark activists to demonstrate the relatively low number of shark-attack related fatalities, with 10 casualties on average caused by sharks each year. However, that doesn’t mean coconuts are shy.
If a coconut weighing 4 pounds fell 80 ft onto a person’s head, the impact velocity would be 50 mph. The force of that would be roughly equivalent to the weight of 1 ton. That means, a coconut falling at terminal velocity would be the equivalent of dropping about 300 bricks on your head!
And coconuts dropped from lower heights have resulted in ER trauma admissions, with injuries caused to the back, shoulders, and head. There have even been fatalities caused by coconuts!
In 1973, a young child in Hawaii was fatally injured while playing in a park after a coconut in a nearby tree fell on them. And in 2002, a fatal incident involving a falling coconut on a beach in Northern Queensland, Australia, led to authorities removing coconut trees from all their beaches!
So be careful where you decide to take a nap on holiday, or this falling fruit might be the last thing you ever see!
Let me introduce you to a frightening sight that could suddenly slide out of any tree you might find near sea water: the shipworms. Despite their name, they’re technically a member of the mollusk family, a group of saltwater clams with long, soft white bodies.
They are infamous for burrowing into structures such as piers, docks, and ships; anywhere where wood meets the sea, shipworms will be there!
They settle onto wooden structures as larvae where they begin to excavate the wood, burrowing themselves inside as they grow into adulthood, spending their whole lives munching great long tracks through the wooden beams.
The tunneling of shipworms can cause dangerous structural weaknesses and result in shipwrecks and pier collapses, alongside a nasty shower of slimy worm.
Nevertheless, in the Philippines, shipworms are known locally as Tamilok, and are considered a delicious delicacy.
There, they’re hunted and extracted from trees growing or rotting in mangroves close to the coast. But, depending on how infested the tree is, its structural integrity could see it collapse at any moment, putting potential hunters in grave danger!
At a glance, the pretty flowers dangling from this tree really steal the show. The pristine petals have earned the name Angel’s Trumpets, but after you learn a little more about them, you realize they should be called Devil’s Trumpets.
The official name of this plant is Brugmansia, and originally it was native to the wilds of South America, though it can now be found a lot closer to home, perhaps even in your garden!
Brugmansia is considered by many as an ornamental plant perfect to have in a pot on the patio. But don’t be fooled, it’s also one of the most toxic trees you can grow.
To both humans and animals, the toxins of this plant can be fatal. In their native climates, Brugmansia can grow upwards of 20 feet tall, the entire tree covered in foot long trumpet-shaped flowers.
However, be warned because contact with this plant can trigger anticholinergic syndrome in the central nervous system, leaving sufferers completely paralyzed and confused.
It’s so dangerous that ecologists routinely have to wear hazmat suits while working with it! But that’s not all! The toxin can also trigger auditory and visual hallucinations!
According to studies, the hallucinations aren’t fun, they’re terrifying, meaning this is a tree that can probably make your worst nightmares appear before your very eyes.
Back in 2006, a young man was admitted to hospital after drinking a cup of Red Angel’s trumpet tea. He seemed to be searching for a high, but instead, in the throes of a vivid hallucination, he cut off his tongue and his "trumpet". Now that’s what you call a bad trip!
If you ever go on a walk through an orchard in Brazil, you may come across a tree smothered in black boils! But before you hail down the locals to warn them of an oncoming plague, take a closer look. They’re actually the delicious and edible berries of the Jaboticaba Tree!
Native to three states of Brazil, and in season for just a few weeks of the year, these berries grow in a bizarre fashion. They smother the tree trunk like a clutch of alien eggs rather than in the usual way of appearing among the leaves.
Due to the extremely short shelf life of these berries, beginning to ferment three to four days after being picked, they are often turned into jam, jelly, juice, or liquor! However, when it comes to figuring out which black berries are safe to eat, you best leave that to the Brazilians.
Without an untrained eye, many other luscious-looking black berries are in fact poisonous. Pokeweed, a common sight in South America, bears inviting black berries on bright purple stems! But, unlike the delicious Jaboticaba berries, these cause violent cramping, difficulty breathing and eventual asphyxiation.
But it’s far from the only dangerous black berry out there! Atropa Belladonna, otherwise known as Deadly Nightshade, is one of the most toxic plants in the world, and also sports berries that are similar in shape and size to the Jaboticaba.
But don’t be fooled by their similar appearance, because eating even a single Nightshade berry can cause hallucinations, psychosis, and convulsions. Eating just 2 disrupts involuntary systems throughout your body, like sweating, breathing, and your heart rate, which can prove fatal!
The best rule to follow is to always avoid wild black berries. Unless you find them growing directly from a tree trunk in Brazil!
The leaves of the Honey Locust Tree, commonly found across the U.S., turn and incredible shade of orange in the fall. But be warned, because lurking beneath those leaves are sharp spear-like thorns that are about 4 inches long, although some can reach as long as 11 inches!
Flick knives with blades longer than 2.5 inches are generally illegal to carry in most U.S. states, so it’s fair to say this is a seriously gangster tree!
The flowers possess a strong, sweet scent, but leaning in too close to get a sniff could bring you face to face with those thorns. They’re so big and nasty that they’ve been known to puncture the tires of field tractors!
And some horrifying accounts have even described these thorns piercing right through people’s skin to fracture the bone!
The thorns are thought to have evolved to protect the tree from giant animals that used to roam the earth during the world’s last ice age, like wooly mammoths. Those animals have since gone extinct, but the honey locust tree has hung onto its weaponry!
On the other hand, the honey locust’s close cousin, the black locust tree, takes its thorny weaponry a step further. The black locust tree has fewer and shorter spikes, but it laces them with the poisonous phytotoxin, called robin, which can cause muscle weakness and kidney failure.
So, if you see a tree with thorny spikes be warned and steer clear, as they evolved to fight off wooly mammoths, so they won’t find humans much of a challenge!
The savannas of equatorial East Africa are great rolling planes punctuated here and there by vegetation. It’s a relatively peaceful, quiet landscape with the exception of an odd, eerie whistling, one that’s not coming from any sort of bird.
The Whistling Thorn is an Acacia tree that can grow up to 18 feet tall. But that’s not all it grows. On either side of a swollen vine, the tree boasts tens of pairs of huge spikes which each reach 3 inches long. But the thorns are the least of your concerns, as the swollen bases of these thorns are naturally hollow.
This makes them the perfect spot for a whole variety of insects to move in! Ants in particular reside inside the tree in a symbiotic relationship, using the hollows of the swollen vines to build their nests and acting as a defense for the tree.
The fire ants protect the tree by swarming out of their nests and attacking any intruders brave enough to try and mess with the tree. An attack from a fire ant typically causes instant, intense pain.
The pain quickly gives way to itching and intense skin irritation that lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. And worker fire ants are determined soldiers, so they won’t stop until the job’s done!
Every few years, the ant colonies relocate their base to another swollen vine, leaving behind a hollow thorn.
When the wind blows, it whistles through the hollows in the old, abandoned thorny vines, leaving the tree to whistle threateningly in the wind! So, if you ever hear an ominous whistling floating over the African savannahs, turn on your heel and run the other way!