In 1999, radiologist Nicola Strickland went on a holiday to the Caribbean island of Tobago, a tropical paradise complete with idyllic, deserted beaches.
On her first morning there, she went foraging for shells and corals in the white sand, when the holiday quickly took a turn for the worse.
Scattered amongst the coconuts and mangoes on the beach, Strickland and her friend found some sweet-smelling green fruit that looked much like small crabapples.
Both foolishly decided to take a bite, and within moments the pleasant, sweet taste was overwhelmed by a peppery, burning feeling and an excruciating tightness in the throat that gradually got so bad they could barely swallow.
The fruit in question belonged to the manchineel tree (Hippomane mancinella), sometimes referred to as ‘beach apple’ or ‘poison guava’.
It’s native to the tropical parts of southern North America, as well as Central America, the Caribbean, and…
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