Know your trees in Spain

TREEMENDOUS: There are 8,000 different plant species in Spain. Photo credit: Hans Hillewaert

THERE are some 8,000  species in Spain, with around 2,000 of them being indigenous.

One that you need to be very aware of however is the Manchineel tree, or Hippomane Mancinella.

This tree is so dangerous, it is typically marked with a warning sign. The leaves are small and green, and the fruit resembles that of an apple tree, which explains the name, a derivative from the Spanish word for small apple “manzanilla.”

However, in Spain this tree is more often known as the little apple of death, as all parts of the tree are extremely toxic. So much so in fact, that if you burn it and stand near the smoke, you can go blind.

If you were to stand under the tree while it is raining, you would get a nasty surprise in the form of blisters on exposed parts of your body caused by contact with a white milky substance that the tree secretes when it rains.

In the Caribbean islands, it is said that natives have at some stage used Manzanilla sap to poison their arrows, and even tied captives to its trunk to ensure a slow and painful death.