In the UK we have some plantthat can sting or contain an irritant that can cause blisters, such astinging nettles. Variouberries, fruitand fungucan be poisonous, but we either know them or simply don’t go around trying to eat them. In the UK people don’t expect to have to be able to forage for food.
We know that around the world there are stinging plantand those with poisonousap or fruit, but we haven’t grown up with them so we don’t exactly know what they are. Any American child can identify and avoid poison oak, which producea very irritating rash, but could you identify and avoid it?
Some plantand fruit are more toxic than you can imagine, but we have no idea what they are. If a plant hahuge spikeand thornwe can see them and know that we should avoid them, but there ino general rule we can tollow to avoid poisonouplantor truit. We only know’ what to avoid it somebody tellus!
It you were taking a walk m the English countryside, and saw a man about to grasp a handful of stinging nettles, would you call out and stop him? Would you interfere’, or assume he knowwhat he idoing, or even ignore him?
Now reverse the situation – you are that person. When I wain Barbados, it looked like it wacoming on to rain so I sheltered under a big old tree. 1 stood and watched the black cloudgetting closer, when a passing man changed direction to walk up to me. 1 didn’t hear him w’hen he first spoke, so I said. ‘Sorry what did von say?’ He paused then said. That’a manchmeel tree.’ i couldn’t understand why he had gone out of hiwray to give me a botany lesson, but I guessed whai lie wasaying wasignificant in some way
I thanked him for the information and asked him why he’d gone out ot hiway to tell me what the tree was. 1 waglad I did. He explained that the manchineel tree waquite poisonous. The leaves, the bark and the sap were so toxic that rain water running down over the leavepicked up so much toxin that it it dripped onto exposed human skin it hurt and quickly caused a large blister to form.
He said he almost didn’t repeat what he had said, because he didn’t want to interfere or get any abuse or hassle from a stranger. It started to rain, but he waso interesting and the rain waso warm that we just walked along the beach awe talked. I thanked him several more timebefore we parted.
Tourist hoteland resortare designed to be safe, and the developerand management tend not to plant dangeroutreeor plantin areawhere touristcould come to harm. Unfortunately, when we travel most people like to explore a little, to drive around, ride horses, walk and otherwise see a little of the countryside. There are a few thingthat you can do to make sure you stay safe.
On arrival, ask about dangerouplants, poison sap, stinging plants, etc., and ask where you are likely to find them
If possible, find out what the plantlook like, then if you are unsure you can avoid all plantthat look anything like them!
If you are planning to explore, check to see if there are any dangerin that area. If there are, go with an organised group so that a guide can steer you away from those dangers.
Consider taking a thick plastic bag so that if you are stung you can carefully collect and carry a sample to show the doctor what caused the irritation.
Seek medical help asoon ayou can.
If you are stung by a plant or sap, avoid scratching. In most casescratching only makethingworse and also breakthe skin, allowing secondary infection to take a hold.