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Hippomane mancinella - Manchineel


Native to:



Central and southern Central America, Colombia and Venezuela, Florida and the Caribbean.

Seacoasts and swamps. 0-2 meters above sea level. 12 meters tall.

Hippomane mancinella - Manchineel

Ecological value:

Eaten by the Black Spiny-Tailed Iguana in Central and South America. Roots stabilize sand/soil to prevent erosion. Found on coastal beaches and brackish swamps. Pollinated by bees.
Excellent windbreaker.

Material uses:

The poisonous sap neutralizes in the sun and the wood can be handled. Native people used the sap to coat their arrows for hunting. Wood is hard, strong, durable, but susceptible to attack by wood boring insects. Easy to work, takes varnish well.

Edible uses:

Every part of tree is poisonous to humans.

Medicinal use:

Gum from the bark has treated venereal disease and dropsy in Jamaica. The dried fruit has been used as a diuretic. Extract from fruit used to treat elaphantitis.

Other details:

The sap has caused blisters when in contact with skin. Contact with the burning bark has caused inflammation of the eyes. Must be left in the sun after it’s cut to dry the toxic sap. Interaction may be lethal. Listed as endangered in Florida.


Senna Lau/Priyal Metha/Christine Facella


‌“Hippomane Mancinella L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science.” n.d. Plants of the World Online. Accessed November 12, 2023.
“Hippomane Mancinella - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 12, 2023.
Uphof. J. C. Th., ‘Dictionary of Economic Plants’, Weinheim, 1959
Little E.L. Wadsworth F.H., ‘Common Trees of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands’, USDA, Forest Service; Washington, 1964
Image source: Hans Hillewaert

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