Would you believe that there's a tree so poisonous that you don't actually have to touch it to be harmed? It's called the manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella), found throughout the Florida Everglades, Central America and the Caribbean. Inhaling sawdust or smoke from the 30-foot (9.1-meter) tall tree may result in a variety of uncomfortable side effects, including coughing, laryngitis and bronchitis. Some reports suggest that simply standing beneath the tree during a rainstorm and being splashed by runoff may result in rashes and itching. Your car isn't even safe from this toxic tree: Park under its low branches, and dripping sap can seriously damage the paint.
Direct contact with the manchineel tree is far more hazardous. Its milky sap can squirt from the tree when twigs are snapped off, painfully irritating the skin and eyes. Ingestion of the deceptively sweet, crabapple-like fruits is known to blister the mouth and cause the throat to swell shut, then inflict severe gastrointestinal problems. These harmful effects result from the toxin hippomane A and B, which are present in every part of the tree.
The manchineel tree sometimes grows near the beach, giving it another of its common names, "beach apple." Hapless tourists vacationing on the warm coasts of Central America and the Caribbean often encounter its poisonous boughs with unfortunate consequences. So if you're heading to that region's beach resorts, make sure to avoid the manchineel tree or else your dream vacation could turn into a nightmare.