Florida ranks highest in the most dangerous trees list, but other states in Northern America also have some poisonous tree species.
Unfortunately, most toxic trees look nothing different from harmless ones, so it’s very important to be able to recognize the dangerous trees when you see them.
This guide outlines 15 of the most deadly trees, how to identify them, and how to remove them safely, if required.
As much as these trees make the world beautiful, and some are useful to human beings, they can also be fatal. Below is a list of some of the most dangerous trees in the world.
#1. The Manchineel Tree Florida (The Most Dangerous Trees)
The Manchineel is a rare tropical plant that grows in sandy soils within northern South America and the Caribbean. You will find some traces in Central America, but its recognized habitat is in South Florida.
The tree is also ranked in the Guinness Book of World Records (2011) as the most dangerous tree in the world.2
Why Is the Manchineel Tree Dangerous?
All Manchineel tree parts are dangerous to humans, including their bark and leaves. The tree has a sweet apple-like fruit that can cause internal bleeding, edema, and shock when consumed.
The tree also has a poisonous milky sap that causes burning and blistering when in contact with the human body.
Manchineel Tree Poison Symptoms
Once you have touched or consumed the Manchineel tree fruits, you will start experiencing extreme pain, blisters, or even death. Even the smoke that is produced when burning the limbs and leaves can cause blindness, skin irritation and other problems.
How To Get Rid of Manchineel Trees (Get Rid of Dangerous Trees)
Due to the toxic nature of the Manchineel plant, you should never try to remove it from your yard without professional help. Any contact with the plant could be fatal unless you know how to handle the plant safely.
Contact a professional to help you remove a Manchineel tree near your home. Reach out to local businesses that know how to kill a tree without cutting it down, or that offer free tree removal programs.
Manchineel Tree Locations (Manchineel Tree Florida: Map of Locations)
Manchineel trees are located in the northern parts of South America, the Caribbean, and a bit of Central America. However, most of the surviving Manchineel trees are in Florida and Mexico.
You might not find the trees in public parks and common areas, but you might encounter them in forests and nature trails in Florida.
Florida ranks top in the states with the highest number of Manchineel trees.3
Manchineel Tree Burns
The Manchineel tree produces toxic smoke that could cause blindness when you stand too close to it.It’s also not a good idea to breathe the smoke.
Additionally, the sap from the tree causes burns to the skin and could lead to inflammation and rashes.
Manchineel Tree Identification (What Does the Manchineel Tree Look Like?)
Manchineel tree is a rare tree species. Even in Florida, where it grows, you can only find it in the Everglades and the Florida Keys.
But, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye out for it. Key characteristics to look for include he fruit, flowers, bark, and leaves of the tree.
The Manchineel Tree Identification Chart shows them above.
#2. Namibian Bottle Tree (A Killer Tree in Africa)
The Namibian Bottle tree is a desert tree that is shaped like a bottle to hold water for the tree. However, that water is highly poisonous and fatal to animals and humans. Hunters use the water for hunting game.
The toxic water is a defense mechanism against desert animals that would otherwise consume all the water leaving the plant to die. This tree also has thorny branches to keep it safe from anyone trying to destroy it. The good thing about the plant is that you will not find it in most human habitats.
It is designed for the desert and has such a distinct shape that it would be hard to miss it. It is also mostly found in Namibia, Africa, meaning that you might never come across the tree in your lifetime.
Cottonwood trees originated from eastern North America, Chicago, and the Midwest, and although these trees are not poisonous, they danger exists in the threat they can present.
Cottonwood Tree Problems to Humans
A cottonwood tree can grow up to 100 feet above the ground. While such a tree is a sight to behold, it is also potentially dangerous because of the weak wood.
The tree is, therefore, quite dangerous when planted in residential areas.
Additionally, some humans are allergic to its pollen. Most cities and residential areas will remove such trees from the neighborhood and instead invest in reforestation and carbon offset projects.
Are Cottonwood Trees Dangerous to Dogs?
Cottonwood trees are not dangerous to dogs, but the seeds cannot be digested in a dog’s stomach.
Therefore, a dog eating the seeds might experience nausea and stomach upset.
Are Cottonwood Trees Invasive?
Like aspens, cottonwood trees have a wide range of roots that make them branch out and grow invasively in an area. Most cities will ban cottonwood trees because of how invasive they are.
How Long Do Cottonwood Trees Live?
What Is a Cottonwood Tree Fluff Allergy?
Female cottonwood trees produce cotton fluff, which is not allergic to humans. However, the male trees produce pollen that could be allergic to some people. For the above reasons, cottonwood trees should be planted far from residential areas.
Are Cottonwood Tree Seeds Poisonous?
Cottonwood seeds are mildly toxic to humans and most animals. Consuming the seeds could lead to digestion problems as most animals cannot digest the fluffy cottonwood seeds.
However, cottonwood tree leaves are edible and highly nutritious, but bitter to taste.
Cottonwood Tree Texas Data
Cottonwood trees are found in Central and East Texas. They grow along river banks and in rural homesteads for shade.
The Eastern Cottonwood tree is the most popular poplar tree species in Texas, but you can find other similar species like Rio Grande cottonwood.
#4. The Sandbox Tree
The Sandbox tree is also known as the dynamite tree because its large pods explode and drop bulky seeds at a very high speed. The trees grow to about 200 feet above the ground, which makes the dropping seeds quite dangerous to anything beneath the tree.
Additionally, this weird tree has bark has nasty spikes all around it, producing a toxic sap that is poisonous to human beings. The spikes on the tree have earned it the name “Monkey No-Climb“ because no animals or human beings will go anywhere near the tree.
#5. Suicide Tree
The name should tell you that the tree is one of those trees that will kill you instantly. It has been referred to as a murder weapon because people have used the tree to either poison someone or commit suicide.
The tree looks nothing like a murder weapon with its beautiful green leaves and white flowers. It also has no strong flavor, which makes it easy to ingest without knowing. It is a tree native to India and is mostly used for landscaping.
The Suicide tree has noxious chemicals that are fatal to human beings upon consumption. It is, therefore, not advisable to have it in your homestead where kids can easily reach it.
#6. The Milky Mangrove
The Milky Mangrove is a tree that mostly grows on tropical coastlines. However, the tree has a toxic composition that is dangerous to other living organisms, including humans.
Once scratched or cut in any part of the tree, a milky sap oozes out, and any contact with it has consequences.
If it touches human skin, blisters and swelling are witnessed in the affected areas. It can also cause blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes. The Milky Mangrove creates beautiful scenery on coastlines, but its toxic sap makes it dangerous to have in areas with a human population.
#7. Bunya Pine
Bunya Pine trees grow very tall, reaching almost 148 feet. The danger from the tree comes from its spiky pinecones that are gigantic and fall from the tree for reproduction.
The pinecones pose a danger to anyone or anything beneath the tree.
If one of the gigantic pinecones is hit, severe injuries or even death are imminent. There is limited seed dispersal of the pinecones, mainly because of their huge size. That means, the seeds can only be within a close range and on the forest floor, which highly contributes to the continued growth of the Bunya pine tree and its pinecones.
#8. The Angel’s Trumpet
The Angel’s Trumpet is a small tree with large pendulous flowers.7 The tree is native to South America, and every part of the plant is toxic.
It has scopolamine, alkaloids, atropine, and hyoscyamine.
Consumption of any plant part could lead to memory loss, hallucinations, paralysis, and even death. The flowers of the Angel’s Trumpet have many different colors, including white, yellow, pink, and orange.
However, the tree is not a common tree in any part of the world. It is one of those trees that are slowly becoming extinct.
#9. The Strychnine Tree
The Strychnine tree is native to Southeast Asia and India. The deadly tree produces a strychnine chemical that has been used as a chemical murder weapon for animals and humans.
The poison is found in the seeds and could cause dizziness, paralysis, and muscle cramping.
Eating the seeds or tasting any part of them could be fatal for humans and animals. The chemical from the seeds has been used to kill pests in the past. However, the plant can be used in some medical cases, like cancer treatment.
Gympie-Gympie is a deadly version of the stinging nettle that has stinging vegetation laced with toxic chemicals. The chemicals are fatal to the human body, and any contact with the plant could lead to death or prolonged discomfort.
The plant has the same effect on large animals. Other known effects are loss of visual function and a long period of pain after encountering the plant. The plant has huge beautiful leaves that might not look harmful from a distance.
Animals and human beings should stay away from highly toxic plants to avoid the painful and sometimes deadly consequences.
That component is known as prussic acid and is fatal when consumed. If an animal or human being ingests even 1.2 pounds of the wilted leaves, the outcome could be fatal.
It is necessary to clear any wilted leaves off the grazing path of livestock and thoroughly wash hands after contact with the plant.
The symptoms of Wild Cherry tree poisoning include headaches, dizziness, vomiting, and anxiety. In some cases, it could lead to death. The tree has distinctive white flowers that make it easily recognizable.
#12. Castor Beans Trees
Castor Beans tree is used to make castor oil. It has start-shaped leaves and grows along cultivated field edges and river banks.
It originated from Africa, but you can now find it in North America and some parts of the southern and eastern U.S.
Castor oil is used for medicinal purposes, but only because the toxins are removed during processing.
Eating a single castor bean with toxins in it is fatal. The castor bean contains ricin, a deadly and highly toxic chemical harmful to humans. It is one of the naturally occurring toxins that can be removed to create a highly useful product.
#13. Rosary Pea Plant
Rosary Pea plant is an invasive weed that grows in the US but originated from India. It has beautiful black and red seeds that are uniformly sized; that makes it useful in weight measurements and for making ornaments.
However, the seeds are highly toxic, and even a single seed can kill.
The symptoms of Rosary Peas consumption include headaches, hallucinations, seizures, organ failure, and a fast heart rate.9
It is a plant that grows like a weed on roadsides, abandoned farms, and disturbed areas. The seeds contain a chemical known as abrin, which is like ricin, the chemical found in Castor Beans.
#14. Deadly Nightshade
The Deadly Nightshade is a deadly plant with black cherry-like fruits that is not for human consumption. The fruit contains a deadly poison that could cause severe health conditions like gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease, and symptoms like confusion, headaches, and blurred vision.
Ingestion of the fruit interferes with the body’s memory capacity. It could also lead to death if it takes too long to get the antidote.
The best way to avoid the fatal consequences is to avoid going anywhere near the plant. It is one of the toxic trees that kill instantly. If no immediate medical attention is available, the victim will definitely die.
The plant oozes an oil called urushiol, which could cause blistering and swelling in some people. Poison Oak is not dangerous to everyone, but you do not want to discover whether you are immune from getting poisoned.
Other poisoning symptoms include rashes on the parts that are in contact with the oil.
Common Poisonous Trees in the US
|States in the US||Toxic Plant List|
|Poisonous Trees in Texas||Pokeberry, Poison Ivy, Cottonwood Tree|
|Poisonous Trees in Florida||Common Corn-Cockle, Manchineel, Pokeberry, Poison Hemlock, Rosary Pea, Castor Bean, Oleander, Gloriosa Lily, King Sago, Poison Ivy|
|Poisonous Trees in Kansas||Common Corn-Cockle, Pokeberry, Poison Ivy|
|Poisonous Trees in North Dakota||Common Corn-Cockle, Poison Ivy|
|Poisonous Trees in Louisiana||Common Corn-Cockle, Poison Ivy|
|Poisonous Trees in Illinois (Nothern Area)||Pokeberry, Poison Ivy|
|Poisonous Trees in Maine||Pokeberry, White Hellebore, Poison Ivy|
|Poisonous Trees in Alaska||White Hellebore, Poison Ivy|
Can Dangerous Tree Removal Affect Humans?
Poisonous trees like the Manchineel trees are some of the most challenging trees to get rid of. Cutting the tree exposes the toxic sap that is harmful to the skin, and burning it produces harmful smoke.
It is important to note that tree cutting can lead to a deforestation crisis. However, getting rid of some of these poisonous trees is advisable.
The best way to deal with such dangerous tree removal is to hire professional tree removal companies to help get rid of it. Such a company will have the right tools and protective gear to safely remove dangerous trees from the neighborhood.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dangerous Trees
Which Are the Most Dangerous Trees in the World?
There are many dangerous poisonous trees in the world, but the Manchineel tree and the Sandbox tree are some of the most dangerous ones. While some trees will cause harm to humans through ingestion, others, like the Manchineel tree, can be fatal by as little as touching its leaves.
Can the Deadliest Tree in the World Kill Humans?
Yes. Most of the deadliest trees in the world will kill humans. Some are easily treatable within a few hours of exposure, but others take a short time to turn fatal. It is essential to get medical attention as soon as poisonous tree exposure happens.
Is the Manchineel Florida Tree Deadliest in the World?
Yes. The Manchineel Florida tree was ranked the deadliest tree in the world by the Guinness World Records in 2011. Every part of the plant is poisonous, and the poison can easily get to humans without eating or touching the plant. Standing under a tree in a rain storm could transfer the poison to the body.
Are J-Shaped Trees Dangerous?
Places with J-shaped trees are dangerous because they indicate that the earth beneath is disturbed. In most cases, such plants are a natural warning that there will be a landslide in that area soon. Such trees are mostly found on unstable slopes and have slow ground movement.
Which State Has the Most Dangerous Trees in the World?
Florida ranks top in states with the most dangerous and toxic trees in the world. That is because trees like the Manchineel tree, Poison hemlock, Poison ivy, oleander, rosary pea, castor bean, and many other toxic plant species can be found here.
Are There Toxic Trees for Humans?
Yes. Most of the trees mentioned above are toxic to humans. In most cases, plants that are toxic to humans will be toxic to animals and vice versa. However, it is essential to stay away from any toxic plant, whether it is toxic to animals and humans or not.
Are There Poisonous Trees in North America?
North America has a high percentage of toxic plants. Even if the plants did not originate in the region, most have been introduced and are growing in different places. However, most poisonous trees will not grow in places where people live. They are primarily found in the desert, forest, or hiking trails.
Which Is the Most Poisonous Plant in North America (Killer Tree)?
The water hemlock is considered the most poisonous killer plant in North America. The plant looks like celery, which makes it possible to confuse it for something edible. However, any ingestion of the plant causes nausea, painful convulsions, and abdominal cramps. Besides, it can lead to lifelong memory loss and tremors in people who recover from the poisoning.
What Plant Can Kill You Instantly?
The Deadly Nightshade is one of the plants whose ingestion will kill you instantly. It has been used in kingdoms as a murder weapon for anyone going against a regime. Its berries contain atropine, which affects the nervous system and removes the ability to regulate breathing. It has purple flowers, but the deadliest part of the plant is its berries.
Can I Find Poisonous Plants in Forests?
Yes. Most poisonous plants are found in the forest. You will not find poisonous trees near the human population in most places, because humans will remove any dangerous plants from their surroundings. However, the few ones that can be found in human settlements are either too dangerous to remove or do not pose any serious threat to human life.
Read More About Dangerous Trees:
Can We Live Without Trees? How Our Worst Fears Are Becoming Reality
How Many Trees Cut Down Each Year or in 2023? The Deforestation Crisis Explained
11 Magnolia Trees: Guide to Every Type (Colors, Sizes, Locations, Seeds)
13 Awesome and Interesting Facts about the Amazon Rainforest
39 Tree Quotes to Make You Question Climate Change
5 Dogwood Trees: Guide to Every Color, How to Plant, Where to Buy
7 Weird Trees with 2 Strange Enough to Be from Mars
8 Cherry Blossom Tree Tips to Know Before You Plant or Buy (Full Guide)
8 Endangered Tree Species Helping Fight Climate Change
Banyan Tree: Full Guide (And 1 Thing You Never Expected…It Moves)
Basswood Trees Guide: Identifying Using This 1 Odd Leaf Feature
Cherry Tree Guide: 12 Colors, Species, How to Plant (Best Way to Buy)
Cottonwood Tree Guide: Identification of Eastern, Leaves, Seeds & More
Cottonwood Tree Leaf: How to Spot a Cottonwood (All 4 Types) & Eat Them
Cypress Tree Guide: 14 Species, Facts, Bald (Surprising Symbolism)
Desert Willow Tree: Arizona vs Texas (Problems & Winter Issues)
1Brown, S. P. (2021, August 22). Identification of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, and Poisonwood. UF | IFAS Extension. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from <https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/EP220>
2Guinness World Records Limited. (2022). Most Dangerous Tree. Guinness World Records. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from <https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-dangerous-tree->
3Hussain, S. (2021, November 17). ‘Little Apple of Death’: Tree Found in South Florida Named World’s Deadliest. NBC 6 South Florida. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from <https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/manchineel-tree-found-in-florida-named-deadliest-in-the-world/2623010/>
4Janoski, J., & Yiesla, S. (2021, December 09). Eastern Cottonwood. The Morton Arboretum. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from <https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/eastern-cottonwood/>
5LA County. (2022). Parkway Trees. Public Works | Los Angeles County. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from <https://pw.lacounty.gov/rmd/parkwaytrees/>
6Lewandowski, R. (2010, June 09). Summer Storms and Wild Cherry Trees. The Ohio State University. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from <https://u.osu.edu/beef/2010/06/09/summer-storms-and-wild-cherry-trees/>
7Pei, PharmD, D. N. (2022). Are Rosary Peas Poisonous? Poison Control. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from <https://www.poison.org/articles/are-rosary-peas-poisonous-194>
8Petruzzello, M. (2022, August 10). angel’s trumpet | Plant, Description, Species, Uses, & Poisonous. Britannica. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from <https://www.britannica.com/plant/angels-trumpet>
9Texas A&M Forest Service. (2017, July 27). Eastern Cottonwood. Texas A&M Forest Service – Trees of Texas. Retrieved August 30, 2022, from <http://texastreeid.tamu.edu/content/TreeDetails/?id=81>
10Hura crepitans Ankarafantsika Photo by Maria Vorontsova / CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication. Resized. Retrieved March 16, 2023, from Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/36803481@N06/33132563860/sizes/c/>
11Photo by Ludwig Kwan. Pexels. Retrieved from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/seed-of-cerbera-odollam-tree-on-ground-in-park-4510933/>
12Photo by Lea A. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/images/id-1061224/>
13Photo by Vantage Point Graphics. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/images/id-267005/>
14Photo by GOKALP ISCAN. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/images/id-233959/>
15Photo by hartono subagio. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/images/id-6541601/>
16Photo by Ray Shrewsberry. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/images/id-5276704/>
17Photo by NoName_13. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/images/id-1547692/>
18Photo by Noah Boyer. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/wrF_hS_3mAE>
19Photo by Eleanor Lemal. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/images/id-6787053/>
20Photo by マサコ アーント. Pixabay. Retrieved from <https://pixabay.com/images/id-1311886/>