Author: Bruce Morehouse (---.man.choiceone.net)
Date: 04-03-06 15:23
Like many posters we're just back from a wonderful week in Culebra. Would that my life usually happened at that pace...
My wife and I stepped off the beaten path to beaches without names and experienced some truly wonderful snorkelling. Big fish, unbelievably beautiful "forests" of fans and gorgonians. She saw a large leatherback and we both saw hawksbills.
There is a small drawback to stepping out though. I THOUGHT I knew what poisonwood looked like, but evidently I wasn't as astute as I had deluded myself. Which is a preamble to relaying that she had a brush in with the tree. At first, we thought it was just those voracious "mi-mehs" (no-see-ums, in our neck of the woods), but as the symptoms grow and the welts are in lines, we think perhaps she had a brush in with the tree.
It is NOT at the Flamenco campground, but it is elsewhere on the island (and ALL of the tropics down there).
Like poison ivy, once you learn to spot it, it jumps out at you like a red light. Until you do learn to spot it, it looks like most every other tree but the acacias.
Here a few links to sites. I just "google imaged" "poisonwood -bible" and found a bunch of hits [you'll also get lots of links for the book "The Poisonwood Bible" -- I lived in a village on the same river Barbara Kingsolver wrote of inthe book--I can relate that her descriptions are quite accurate almost all of the time--it is an incredible read, one of the 10 best, but I digress...]
Theres a nice description/photo of the poisonwood tree at
Go to http://www.enature.com and search on poisonwood. Note that the bark of the tree can be a lot smoother than shown in that picture, particularly when young.
the one at fcit.usf.edu I believe is incorrect, the veination is NOT depressed like that.
I didn't get a reaction, so maybe I'm just insensitive to it, or she took a different route, or.... On one remote beach, I was all set to put our towels down under the shade of a tree until I looked at the leaves. I then opted for the acacia with less complete shade.
All said and done, I'd still go off the trail, but sooner and more often!-but now I have a better knowledge of the tree. Besides, the tree aint nothing compared to the danger of the sun. It's just part of the tropics. And please, NEVER eat any fruit from the scrub unless you are 1000% sure you know what it is.
Hope you get to enjoy the island as much as, or even more than, we did.