"Poisonwood or Hog Gum (Metopium toxiferum)" Top 5 Page for this destination Everglades National Park Warnings Or Dangers Tip by grandmaR
Everglades National Park Warnings and Dangers: 30 reviews and 36 photos
Poisonwood is related to poison sumac and poison oak, all members of the cashew or sumac (Anacardiaceae) family. This example with the warning sign was along one ot the trails - probably the Mahogany Hammock.
The sap contains alkaloids that cause serious skin and mucus irritations after skin contact. Any part of the tree may carry the sap so handling any part of the poisonwood should be avoided. Learn to recognize the glossy leaves and yellow midvein ending in a drip tip. The deep green leaves are compound and usually have from five to nine leaflets--always an odd number. These are almost always blotted with the telltale signs of the tree's toxicity--small black spots of the poisonous sap that blemish the leaves.
The Poisonwood produces abundant and sweet nectar from its sprays of creamy flowers. The nectar is greedily consumed by nectar-loving birds and insects such as the Bananaquit and many species of butterfly with apparently few ill effects. The fruit of the poisonwood is a favorite food source for the rare white-crowned pigeon. Other birds and animals also enjoy the fruit.
The sap is not water-soluble and cannot be washed off with simple soap. So when you scratch, the toxins are transported on your fingertips to any other part of your body--or somebody else's--that you happen to come into contact with.
From an article called "The Bark that Bites", "An island remedy for this unfortunate situation is to immediately spray the affected area with WD 40. While this may seem to be an extreme measure, it does work. Any other oil dissolving substance will probably work as well. Just remember to clean the area before you scratch, or you'll be very sorry."
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