Sandbox tree is a member of the spurge family, the sandbox tree (Hura crepitans) grows 90 to 130 feet tall in its native environment. You can easily recognize the tree by its gray bark covered with cone-shaped spikes. The tree has distinctly different male and female flowers. Once fertilized, the female flowers produce the pods containing the sandbox tree’s exploding seeds.
Sandbox tree fruit looks like little pumpkins, but once they dry into seed capsules, they become ticking time bombs. When fully mature, they explode with a loud bang and fling their hard, flattened seeds at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and distances of over 60 feet. The shrapnel can seriously injure any person or animal in its path. As bad as this is, the exploding seed pods are only one of the ways that a sandbox tree can inflict harm.
The sandbox tree is native primarily to tropical parts of South America and the Amazonian Rainforest, although it is sometimes found in tropical parts of North America. In addition, it has been introduced into Tanzania in Eastern Africa, where it is considered invasive.
The fruit of the sandbox tree is poisonous, causing vomiting, diarrhea and cramps if ingested. The tree sap is said to cause an angry red rash, and it can blind you if it gets in your eyes. It has been used to make poison darts.