mancha what?

it seems like forever ago since our family vacation. that's another great thing about photographs, reliving trips through each and every one.
our trip to the keys was (as i will always say no matter what) wonderful.  our vacations are always dotted with a little drama here and there. whether it is boat issues, car issues, a stolen credit card, emergency room visits... drama is guaranteed. a few days into this year's vacation, we made the mistake of saying, "wow! everything is going as planned. zero drama."  a cause for celebration in gravesland.

we celebrated at our favorite restaurant ;) 
afterwards we walked to a lobster yard for a few pictures. i snap pictures by these lobster traps every year. this time we trespassed walked a little deeper into the lot. 
after a few pictures, i was thrilled that the complaining was kept to a minimal. (another small miracle)
i propped the camera up, set the timer and got a few family shots.

anna kathereine snapped a few of us.

and this is where you
{insert drama!}

while she was taking pictures, mary claire and bennett were throwing little green apples at each other. mary claire couldn't resist biting into one... or maybe three. or four.

bennett our keeper of random knowledge and champion in trivia crack, began insisting his sister had bitten into poisonous apples. "like the ones in snow white?"  he said he knew this for a fact. 

i was becoming more irritated by the minute. he had his sister worked up into a state hysteria. "mary claire wash your mouth out now! you just ate apples of death. they can kill you! " anna katherine joined in. because it is always fun to convince your little sister that she has just poisoned herself.

while i was using all of my mean mom voices to make the drama stop, jeff was studying the tree. jeff knows if bennett insists it is a fact, we may need to double check. 

when we saw that jeff was taking this serious, we all got serious. jeff went  immediately to google. for the next few minutes the family hysteria quietly began to grow. this tree looked a lot like the manchineel tree on the "world's deadliest" tree site. it was actually number three. the two above it produced ricin and cyanid.  the cute little apples were called apples of death.
it wasn't until jeff found the same flowers, with the same leaves we knew bennett wasn't joking.
from the site deadliest trees

 i picked a branch and we drove to the emergency room. thankfully bennett was in the backseat giving everyone a play by play on the stages of death by a manchineel tree.  her death was imminent and very painful.  "stop picking on your sister!"  "i am just reading what the site says." 
The Manchineel tree, native to the Western Hemisphere, is known as the most poisonous tree in the world. In places where it grows – Florida, the Caribbean and the Bahamas – the manchineel is often marked with a red band to warn passersby not to get too near it.
The tree is poisonous on so many levels that if you ever spot one, it is better you stay at least a few yards away from it. Its fruit resembles a small apple, but eating one could land you right in the emergency room. It was supposedly named ‘manzanita de la muerte’ (little apple of death) by Christopher Columbus. But it might just be the least dangerous part of the tree.
The manchineel’s milky white sap is incredibly caustic and poisonous as well – even a drop could cause skin blisters, dermatitis, swelling or burns. This happens a lot with unsuspecting travelers who use the tree for shelter from the rains. The sap is so caustic that even the rain drops coming from the branches can cause burns. The bark is poisonous too – burning it releases a smoke that causes temporary (and in some cases, permanent) blindness. Considering all the ways it can hurt you, it’s no wonder the manchineel currently holds the Guinness record for world’s most dangerous tree.

Legend has it that one of the most infamous deaths by manchineel poison was of Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon. He returned to Florida in 1521 in search of gold and to lay claim to the area he thought he had discovered. Of course, the natives weren’t exactly going to hand over their land to him. In the struggle that took place, an arrow laced with manchineel sap struck Ponce de Leon’s leg, leading to his long drawn out death.

 i walked into the emergency room with the branch in hand. the overly tanned receptionist acted as if i had two heads and both of my mouths were speaking pig latin. the one doctor in the hospital had no idea. really?  (???)  so they sent my branch and me next door to the police department. really? (???) who contacted poison control in miami. we texted pictures and they forwarded them to a botanist.  they assured us that even if it was a manchineel tree and she did not swallow the fruit, the side effects would be not be "severe." (???) but she should wash her mouth, wash our hands and remove the branch from your car  immediately, just in case. they would call us back.

so in the meantime???? we wait. and continue to google a manchineel tree. 

this is what my fingers looked like after holding the branch for just a few minutes. the skin had peeled away on one finger. the inside of mary claire's lips looked the same.
poison control called back around midnight. seeing their number on my phone that late at night made my heart race.

it was confirmed. this was a manchineel tree. these endangered trees are found carribean, but have been know to grow in the south florida keys. once identified a warning sign would be attached.

jeff and i drove by the tree later in the week to really take a look at it. it really did look like a spooky tree.

everything turned out great. mary claire loved the story. she survived a manchineel tree :)
our keeper of random knowledge continued to remind his sister that he saved her life. i wouldn't go as far as to say he saved her life. but he did have her immediately wash out her mouth. the burns would have definitely been worse. bennett did however bring awareness to the tree growing i the area. 

Living Life in the Lowcountry said...

Oh. My. Gosh! Thank goodness everything turned out okay! I love that last photo of Bennett, he looks so smug!

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