Manchineel (Hippomane Mancinella), a poisonous evergreen tree growing wild in the West India islands, along the shores of the Caribbean sea, and in southern Florida. It is of the natural order euphorbiacece; and the name hippomane (Gr. , horse, and , to be mad) is given to the genus from the supposed maddening effect of its juice upon horses. The manchineel tree grows to the height of 40 or 50 ft.; it has a smooth brownish bark, and short and thick branches. The leaves are about 3 in. long and half as wide, with two glands at the junction of the blade with the short footstalks; the flowers grow in short thick spikes at the end of the branches; the fertile flowers are solitary at the base of the spikes, and the staminate ones in small clusters at its apex; both kinds are obscure and without petals The fruit when ripe is of a yellow color, and resembles an apple in appearance; hence it is called manzanillo (little apple), a name that in Spanish American countries is applied to several plants bearing fruit like an apple, or the leaves and flowers of which have an apple-like odor. Some early accounts state that this tree is more deadly poisonous than the upas, asserting that grass would not grow beneath it. that death would follow sleeping under its shade, and that a drop of its juice falling upon the skin had the same effect as the application of red-hot iron.
While the milky juice of the tree is highly poisonous, investigations have shown the earlier reports to be greatly exaggerated, and that, like our poison sumach, it affects some persons more seriously than others. Those who, not knowing its character, have inadvertently tasted of the fruit, have suffered from severe blistering of the lips. The juice as well as the smoke from the burning wood produces temporary blindness. Berthold Seemann, the botanist, was blind after gather-ing specimens, and a boat's crew of his ship, the Herald, were blind for several days from having used some of the wood in making a fire. On account of the beauty of the brown and white wood when polished, it is much used for cabinet work. It is said that before striking the axe into the trees the workmen take care to light fires around them in order to thicken the juice and drive off the volatile poisonous quality; and cabinet makers also when working it protect their faces with veils from the poisonous effects of the saw dust and exhalations from the wood.