Friday, 5 June 2015

Tree huggers beware!

Did you know that 400 million years ago, before trees took over, Earth was covered in 24-foot mushrooms. Spooky, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for mushrooms—they’re great in stir-fries, omelets and salads, for one thing—but I love trees. I’m lucky to live in a well-treed area of the province, and just last week, my dad planted an apple tree in our backyard. I’m already drooling for a slice of grandma’s rhubarb-apple pie.

But today is Environment Day and I was going to make a list of some of my favourite trees…and then when doing my research, I discovered some creep-tastic tree facts that were just too spook-tacular not to share. Ready for this? You might want to sit down…

In Australia, the leaves of the Stinging Tree are covered with tiny hairs that are as sharp as porcupine needles and inject you with poison—a poison so toxic it can produce a burn that lasts as long as two years. Yikes!

If you think that’s bad, do some research on the Amazon’s Sandbox Tree. Its trunk is covered in sharp spines, and the tree’s leaves, bark and sap are all poisonous. But that’s not even the worst of it. When the sandbox tree’s fruits ripen, they burst open with a loud bang and can shoot seeds as far as 100 feet with enough force to send you to the doctor!

And speaking of dangerous fruit, the manchineel tree—native to Florida, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean—is entirely poisonous. In fact, the tiny apple-shaped fruits it produces are so dangerous they’ve been dubbed “little apples of death.” You don’t even have to touch the tree to get hurt! Water rolling off the leaves can burn your skin. Ouch!

You can bet these trees are making it into one of my scary short stories! 

Gotta jet! Have a SUPER weekend—and don’t forget to celebrate Environment Day!

— Chase Superman Duffy

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