Tree Tips for Tropical Travelers: manchineel


The manchineel (also know as “beach apple” or Hippomane mancinella), is a yellowish-green fruit that is not to be consumed. Both the sap from the tree/bark/leaves and the fruit itself are poisonous and it’s not advisable to linger under the tree when it’s raining. This seaside or mangrove tree can grow as a bush or a tree, sometimes up to 50ft tall!


The leaves from its many branches often connect and form a handy canopy to provide shade and a cool spot on hot ☀️ days. Though this tree makes a lovely leaf umbrella, it isn’t to be leaned on, or interfered with.

Actually, in Barbados, many a popular fishing spot is under one of the many manchineel trees along the shore, we make sure to avoid the actual fruit itself. They are regularly seen at the base of the tree or closeby, falling like a round missile from overhanging branches.

 

The manchineel tree is deemed the most poisonous tree on earth by many, so I wonder how come so many of them are sprinkled around , South America, The Caribbean and parts of Florida. Does anyone reading this know of any positive use for parts of the tree at all by any group of people on the planet? Please comment and share.

I’d like to do more research on this “beach apple that’s almost as popular as the sea grape waterside tree, which has a much smaller and actually edible fruit (yummm.) Much like mosquitoes; something that often petrifies visitors to the island, many Bajans are aware of the danger of manchineel fruit (though there’s no formal education on it) yet exist unaffected even in close proximity, but mostly unharmed by these things: (using the tree for shade, inhaling the air surrounding the tree, taking a few miscellaneous raindrops before moving) so we give thanks for that. Most children seem to inherently understand the manchineel is one ‘fruit’ to stay away from, while on the other hand, trees and bushes that host a variety of seasonal fruits, are popular for the picking, from mangoes, ‘dunks’ and Bajan cherries, to soursop, tamarinds and breadfruit…mouth-watering munchies from The Most High.

For visitors, I hope this info comes in handy when you’re enjoying the beaches which are absolutely lovely. No need to be fearful but please mind the manchineel trees, educate your little ones, plonk your towel on the golden sand – not on the fruits, and enjoy the beautiful and refreshing turquoise sea. And remember, walk with a bag for any litter so the beach clean up crews have a lot less hassle keeping Barbados’ beaches clean and sweet for swimming, surfing and fish-friendly water activities.
Ciao for now, and thanks for reading.

Sea grape season: when and where

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