My friend Sue called yesterday. “I just stepped on an orange,” she said.
“Why do you have oranges on your kitchen floor?” I asked.
“It wasn’t on my kitchen floor. It was on my son’s floor.”
“Why did he have an orange on his floor?”
“I have no idea, but I almost killed myself stepping on it.”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure Stepping On Oranges is a well-known cause of death to moms of teenage boys.”
Which (of course) made me wonder, can fruit really kill you?
The answer is (unsurprisingly) yes.
When you swallow a cherry pit, nothing interesting happens (despite your mom having told you for years that you would grow a cherry tree in your tummy). But should you chomp on a broken cherry pit, you could die. Not just because you might choke on the pit, but because cherry pits are full of stuff that your body will turn into cyanide. And unlike other fruit pits that also contain cyanogenic compounds, you only have to ingest one or two crushed up cherry pits to die. So don’t do it.
Almonds (which it turns out are a dried fruit) are also full of cyanide (especially “bitter almonds”). It’s illegal in many places (like the US) to sell raw almonds so as to reduce the number of almond fatalities. Once almonds are heat treated to remove the cyanide (and any lingering bacteria) they are perfectly scrumptious.
Jatropha is a fruit I had never heard of before. According to My Friend the Internet, the Jatropha fruit is good but the seeds are highly poisonous. Some people roast the seeds to reduce the toxicity. At least somewhat—personally, I don’t recommend trying it since as few as three untreated seeds can send you from this mortal coil (extra points if you get the reference). Also its sap can irritate your skin.
Coconuts can cause concussions (and worse) to anyone standing in the space the coconut wishes to occupy. Falling coconuts are not good sharers.
Then there is warrior fruit. The Sandbox Tree (which lives in the tropics) is a full arsenal masquerading as flora. Forget the toxic bark and the spikes, the Sandbox Tree has seed pods (yep, it’s a fruit) that explode when ripe. This is not “explode” as in “this sandwich is so good it explodes with flavor in your mouth.” This is more of “explodes” as in IED sending seed shrapnel out to wound animals and humans unlucky (and by “unlucky” I mean “dumb”) enough to be standing nearby. So it’s not a great houseplant. Although it might be a good way to deal with the deer and mole problems…
There are a bunch of bushes that produce berries that are toxic to people but are great for birds. Small children have a great time playing with the waxy berries, putting them up their noses, and occasionally eating them (none of these are particularly good for the small children).
Sometimes it’s the preparation of fruit that can be dangerous. Bananas flambé for instance can turn the preparer into a toasted marshmallow if the bananas aren’t properly flambéed.
Most importantly, apples that have been in the hands of wicked witches and evil queens have a tendency to be poisonous.
Here’s to keeping the doctor and the evil queen away.
From Wikipedia: Mortal coil is a poetic term that means the troubles of daily life and the strife and suffering of the world. It is used in the sense of a burden to be carried or abandoned, most famously in the phrase “shuffle[d] off this mortal coil” from the “To be, or not to be” monologue in Shakespeare‘s Hamlet.