Family:
Euphorbiaceae
Scientific Name:
Hura crepitans
Toxins:
lectins toxalbumins
Flower Color:
Found:
ornamental, woodlands, forest edges and gaps

Geographical Distribution

Sandbox tree distribution - United States

Sandbox Tree

Hura crepitans

Javillo, Monkey pistol, Possum wood, Sablier, Molinillo, Monkey's dinner bell, Salvadera, Dynamite tree
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Sandbox tree (Hura crepitans) is an evergreen tree of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) which is native to the tropical regions of North and South America. It is also found in parts of Tanzania, where it is considered an invasive species. The sandbox tree can be distinguished by its many dark, pointed (conical) spines along the trunk of the tree.

Sandbox tree fruits are pumpkin-shaped capsules. These capsules explode when their ripe, splitting into segments and launching seeds at speeds over 160 mph and distances over 330 feet from the base of the tree.

The seeds and the latex sap from this tree are highly poisonous. They contain toxalbumin, which is a lectin toxin similar to that contained in the seeds of Rosary pea (Abrus precatorius). The chemicals from this tree were used to develop tear gas in the United States.

Symptoms

  • Temporary blindness (from sap)
  • Seizures
  • diarrhea
  • incoordination
  • depression
  • terminal convulsions
  • death