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Picking Apart the Manchineel
A Local Resident with a Lethal Secret

Article and Photos by Spencer Klein
Courtesy of Experience Nosara

Beware looking for cover on a rainy day; even standing beneath the tree during a rain storm can cause the skin to blister. Stay upwind from bonfires as smoke from burning wood can also cause serious allergic reactions in both the lungs and eyes.

  Don't confuse the manchineel with the Buttonwood, another species similar in resemblance, and commonly found along the coasts of Guanacaste. It's all in the name – the common name for the Manchineel in Spanish is Manzanillo (or Manzanilla), which means "little apple" - the fruit of the Buttonwood looks nothing like that of an apple.

Identifying characteristics include the glossy green leaves outlined with yellow trim, and green and yellow fruits resembling small apples. Look for manchineel trees locally, they are very common along the coast of Guanacaste.

Shiny leaves with yellow trim and yellow "ribs."


Often valued as a shade tree on hot beaches, few realize the Manchineel is among the most poisonous trees in the world. Eating the fruit, which is very similar in appearance to a small apple, can be fatal.

Ripe manzanillo fruit, and leaves.


Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon met his death in battle, but it wasn't by gun, sword, or knife. It was an arrow poisoned with Manchineel sap that finally brought him to his knees.

The caustic white sap causes severe allergic reactions.


More Nature News

Top Ten Signs It's Rainy Season

When the rains turn on in Nosara it's as though we turn back the calendar to a simpler way of life. It's the time of year we all secretly wait for. Less work, more play, and a lot of water. Here are the ten best signs that we've come to one more rainy season, in a very particular order.

Carrillo Beach honored with the Blue Flag
Ministers of the Republic meet to discuss Carrillo and Samara community concerns

School children and community members gathered excited around the flag pole in front of Carrillo Beach Saturday morning, April 30th. They were joined by ministers of the Republic of Costa Rica, including Vice President Alfio Piva Mesen, Vice Minister of Education Silvia Viguez, Executive President of AyA (Acuaductos y Acantarillados) Oscar Nuñez, Minister of Social, Dr. Fernando Marin, and Executive President of the IFAM Juan Marin.

Environmental Education
Contest: Presenting the winners

We are excited to announce the winners of the Water Conservation drawing and writing contest organized by the Environmental Committee of Del Mar Academy.

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