The manchineel tree is dangerous because its sap and fruit contain poison. Its other name is Hippomane, which comes from the Greek and means causing horses to run mad.
The tree is a number of the Euphorbiaceae family and grows in tropical America, producing a crop of acrid, bitter apple-like fruits, which drop spontaneously and carpet the ground beneath it. The sap is white and highly caustic, so that a drop on the skin produces a burning sensation and raises a blister. It used to be believed by many that to sleep beneath the tree mean certain death. But the great 18th century naturalist Nicolas von Jacquin reposed under it for hours at a time without inconvenience.
The wood has often been used for furniture as it is beautifully patterned in brown and white. Before felling the tree by hand, workman light a fire round the trunk, so that the sap thickens and does not run down the handles of their axes.