Bizarre Plants: The Sandbox Tree

When it comes to bizarre plants, the sandbox tree tops the list. It is dangerous. It is creepy looking. Best of all, it has its own arsenal of exploding projectiles. Luckily, it only exists in tropical areas where only the most audacious, or misinformed, dare to tread. It is native to tropical regions in the Americas, though it is also found in Australia and Africa, because people there are just daring enough to introduce this plant into their countries.

Sandbox trees can grow to be more than 100 feet tall. Their bark is smooth, but the lengths of these trees are covered in sharp spikes that prevent animals from climbing up. Another defense they have against curious animals is a creamy juice that seeps out of the trees. Some natives make poison darts and hunt fish with this toxic juice. The sap is an ingredient in the hallucinogen Ayahuasca. Just touching these trees or chopping them down can cause severe skin and eye irritation.

The seeds and seed pods of the sandbox tree are the most dangerous aspects of it. The seed pods are shaped like pumpkins. When they fully mature, the pods explode, splitting along the pumpkin like grooves. The outside becomes shrapnel and the inner seeds shoot out into the forest. The explosive force is actually enough to cause injury to anyone unlucky enough to be standing nearby.

As if the seed grenades were not enough, the sandbox tree's seeds taste good and that is bad. Eating a portion of one of these seeds is enough to cause vomiting and they are laxatives as well. Imagine following ex-lax with ipecac. Eating two or more of these seeds can lead to far worse consequences. You can become delusional while you crap and vomit all over the place. You may even start convulsing and die. Talk about defenses, the sandbox tree is the Fort Knox of the botanical world.


A Tree With Exploding Seed Pods, retrieved 7/17/11,

Hura Crepitans: Sandbox Tree, retrieved 7/17/11,