The trees are great. They produce oxygen and sequester carbon, allowing us to live healthily. Aside from keeping the air clean and fresh, we derive food, materials for shelter, and even a living out of them. But for the trees in this upcoming list, you’ll find that they could do more harm than good, even to the extent they could be deadly! Here are the top 10 most dangerous trees in the world.
10. Gympie Gympie
If you thought a bee sting was agonizing, then you clearly haven’t experienced the excruciating pain of being stung by a gympie gympie.
Commonly found in rainforest areas in the northeast region of Australia, this single-stemmed plant looks harmless with its hairy, heart-shaped leaves.
But don’t make the mistake of touching it or you run the risk of having a severe allergic reaction. Not even conventional types of protection, like gloves and particle masks, can save you. It’s so dangerous that it causes extreme itching and huge hives to the point that steroid treatment is the only mode of relief.
As far as the sensation goes, those who were stung by this seemingly innocent plant described it as “the worst kind of pain you can imagine – like being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time.” That was enough for it to gain the moniker, “stinging tree,” for obvious reasons.
9. Suicide Tree
The Cerbera Odollam, more popularly known as the “suicide tree,” is exactly what its name implies. It’s the perfect poison that could kill a person in an almost untraceable manner.
This tree is usually seen along coastal salt swamps and marshy areas in India and several parts of Southeast Asia. When taken in a fatal dose contained in one kernel, the poison causes victims to experience symptoms such as burning sensations in the mouth, violent vomiting, irregular respiration and heartbeats, coma, and then death.
While its used mainly for suicides, toxicologists warn that it may even have been used as a murder weapon in India. A kernel of the suicide tree has cerberin, a potent heart toxin that can be masked when crushed and mixed in spicy food.
That disrupts normal cardiac rhythm and is difficult to detect unless there’s evidence of ingestion. That makes it the perfect weapon for both suicide and homicide.
8. Bunya Pine
Somewhere in Queensland in northeast Australia, you will find Bunya pines. As they’ve existed since the time of the dinosaurs, you can count of them being impressively huge.
Like any pine tree, immature ones start growing like pyramids, but when they grow further they assume a dome-like appearance at the top. The cones look like pineapples but are much bigger and heavier than them. That’s where the problem lies for unsuspecting humans.
You see, the cones can be as heavy as six kilograms, or 13 pounds, and can reach sizes larger than a person’s head. Now imagine that dropping in freefall during the dying days of summer, and a passerby could be in grave danger when it hits!
When they land, they make a solid, heavy-sounding noise, which means the impact could easily knock you unconscious or even kill. To ensure public safety, fences are usually erected around the trees to warn visitors of what might come from above.
7. Milky Mangrove
Mangroves are unique trees that grow near bodies of water, but the Excoecaria Agallocha is unique in various ways, for better and for worse.
This mangrove species that thrives across Bangladesh, India, and some parts of Australia is known by a lot of names, with ‘milky mangrove’ and ‘blind-your-eye mangrove’ being the most common ones. When its branches or leaves are broken, a milky sap exudes from it. Touching it should be the last thing on your to-do list.
The sap can cause severe skin irritation and blistering, or worse, temporary blindness when it makes contact with your eyes.
While it’s considered harmful to humans, studies show that it can provide benefits to us as well. It has properties that, when used appropriately, can be antibacterial, anti-ulcer, antioxidant, and anti-cancer agents among its many other therapeutic effects.
But unless you’re a well-read researcher specializing on the plant, it’s best to steer clear of it.
An oleander is a small tree loved by most home gardeners. Its funnel-shaped flowers can come in shades of white, pink, red, or yellow – making it a great ornamental display piece.
Most variants give off a pleasant odor, further increasing its value as an appealing landscape plant. Yet, while it looks and smells wonderful, every part is highly lethal.
This plant contains more than one type of toxic substance, such as cardiac glycosides, saponins, oleandrin, and a lot more.
Ingesting parts of oleander, such as its flowers, leaves, stems, and twigs can result in moderate to fatal symptoms. These include skin rashes, visual disturbances, gastrointestinal troubles, confusion-and-disorientation, fainting, irregular heartbeats, and even lethargy. When left unaddressed, it can even eventually lead to serious illness and death. Imagine all that trouble from an ornamental plant!
5. European Yew
Another dangerous ornamental tree is the European Yew, also known as English Yew. Its widely distributed throughout Europe as well as Asia, reaching as far as the Himalayas.
This coniferous tree could get as tall as 30 meters, or 100 feet, with its branches spreading out and up from the center. But just like the oleander, this pretty sight can be deadly.
All parts of this tree, with the exception of its berries, contain a deadly substance known as taxin. Those who ingest it sometimes are fooled into thinking they aren’t poisoned because they may not experience any symptoms, only to die a few hours later. If symptoms do occur, they would manifest through trembling, staggering, feelings of coldness, a weak pulse, and then sudden collapse. Even if the plant dies, the poison remains potent… so stay away from it!
Going back to its berries, while their flesh is harmless, the seeds are toxic. If undigested until excreted out of the body, however, no poisoning will occur.
4. Strychnine Tree
The strychnine tree, also known for its various monikers such as nux vomica, poison nut, and quaker buttons, is a deciduous tree found in India and Southeast Asia. This medium-sized tree thrives in open habitats, and while it looks harmless, it contains one of the most violent poisons known to man.
This plant is the main source of strychnine, an extremely toxic substance that acts on both the nervous and muscular systems. Exposure to it can cause sudden tetanic tonic contraction, which is why poisoning can sometimes be mistaken as the manifestation of tetanus. When at least 5 milligrams of it are ingested, it can produce symptoms of anxiety, restlessness, painful convulsions, respiratory difficulty, and even death from suffocation or exhaustion.
The fact that there’s no specific antidote makes it all the more lethal for the victim. However, potassium permanganate can subdue strychnine, though a stomach pump must then be used immediately. Any later and the risk worsens.
3. Sandbox Tree
Did you know there’s a tree that acts like nature’s lethal grenade? I’m talking about no other than the sandbox tree.
Native to North, Central, and South America, know this tree for its deep brown spikes that adorn it from base to crown.
When its fruit becomes ripe, it will suddenly explode, throwing its seeds in all directions up to 40 meters away, with speeds as fast as 240 kilometers per hour! That easily spells danger to any animal, unsuspecting human, or frail windows near its vicinity.
But that’s not all. The brownish-green fruit can be eaten, but be careful because its seeds can cause cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. As if that’s not enough, its sap can spell trouble for you as well. Like the milky mangrove, it can cause red rashes on your skin and blindness when it makes contact with your eyes!
Those are more than enough reasons for it to gain a spot among some of the world’s most dangerous trees.
2. Angel’s Trumpet
The name “Angel’s Trumpet” may make this plant sound like it’s a heavenly flower, but it is anything but that. You could say it’s like a pretty instrument of the devil that poses a mortal danger with the ability to send you to the grave!
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Its bell-shaped flower is great for gardens as an ornament, but its poison derived from tropane alkaloids can cause terrifying hallucinations, putting you in a zombie-like state. Aside from that, the American Journal of Psychiatry says that ingesting the plant can cause fever, delirium, agitation, and persistent memory disturbances. In extreme cases, a victim can experience flaccid paralysis, violent convulsions, and eventually, death.
Surely, you wouldn’t want to go anywhere near this tree then, right? True, but you may not have a choice. It’s used to create a drug called “Devil’s Breath” which is often used for malicious purposes. It’s tasteless, odorless, and can be mixed with drinks or food.
The dangerous thing about it is that to people, you may look conscious, but in actuality are very impressionable. It puts you at the mercy of the person who drugged you. That makes you vulnerable to crimes and abuse. Some cases involved drugged victims emptying their bank accounts to hand over their money to criminals who spiked them. That’s pretty scary for a plant called the “Angel’s Trumpet,” right?
1. Manchineel Tree
We’re down to the most dangerous tree in the world, and the top spot is reserved for no less than the Manchineel Tree. It’s known by the nickname “manzanita de la Muerte,” which means “little apple of death,” and deservedly so.
You see, every part of the manchineel is extremely deadly, so much that you’ll see warning signs around them.
It’s white, milky sap is so highly caustic that it can cause severe rashes, acute dermatitis, and painful temporary blindness upon contact. When it rains, you shouldn’t take shelter under this tree. Every drop of rain that makes contact with it transforms into an acidic droplet, causing burns to anyone beneath.
In fact, Florida natives used to torture Spanish conquistadors by forcing them to stand under manchineel trees during rainstorms to blind and burn them!
Its fruit may look tempting, but don’t eat it. You may experience gastrointestinal disturbances, bleeding, and blistering on the mouth and throat. In large amounts, it can be fatal to you.
All those deadly characteristics earned it a spot in the book of Guinness World Records as the most dangerous tree in the world.
Which tree do you now fear the most? Let me know in the comments section down below!
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