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The Mel Gibson tapes are now infamous, but many questions remain, including when they were recorded, and what event(s) sent the actor SO over the edge.

Well, sources tell TMZ that Oksana Grigorieva began secretly taping her ex-boyfriend shortly after he accused her of “messing around with the tree man.”

It all went down February 18 – all six Mel Gibson rants leaked so far.

On that date, Oksana went to Mel’s house and he allegedly flew into a rage. Sources say that Gibson had quit smoking that day and was in a “terrible mood.”

It bears mentioning that reports also say how Mel also tried to quit smoking the day of his alleged attack on Grigorieva and their daughter Lucia, January 6.

MAD MEL: Finally, a new theory has emerged as to when the infamous tapes were recorded, and why Mel Gibson flew into a blinding rage at Oksana Grigorieva.

On February 18 Mel became insanely jealous, accusing Oksana of an affair with her landscaper. According to Oksana, she left in fear for herself and the baby.

After she left, angry Mel began calling and she began recording.

Sources say there was no physical violence February 18 and the only violence between them occurred January 6 – which Gibson’s camp disputes, of course.

All of the recordings so far – Oksana personally denies distributing the tapes, but her sister, Natalie Grigorieva, may be the leak – occurred on February 18.

Until this revelation, all we knew was that the tapes originated sometime between January 6 and May, when they nearly signed a $15 million custody deal.

Under that agreement, which Oksana agreed to but ultimately did not sign, she would have had to give Mel unmonitored visitation – and turn over the tapes.