In Australia, even the trees can hurt you

As if Saltwater Crocodiles, sharks, six of the ten most venomous snakes, venomous spiders, killer jellyfish, kangaroos that will seriously kick your ass, Cassawaries, large flightless birds that can dis-embowel you, even the Duck-Billed Platypus is venomous (it will not kill you but the pain is excruciating) were not enough, we now learn the trees there can put it on you too

Our research on the venom of Australian stinging trees, found in the country’s north-east, shows these dangerous plants can inject unwary wanderers with chemicals much like those found in the stings of scorpions, spiders and cone snails.

In the forests of eastern Australia there are a handful of nettle trees so noxious that signs are commonly placed where humans trample through their habitat. These trees are called gympie-gympie in the language of the Indigenous Gubbi Gubbi people, and Dendrocnide in botanical Latin (meaning “tree stinger”).

A casual split-second touch on an arm by a leaf or stem is enough to induce pain for hours or days. In some cases the pain has been reported to last for weeks.

A gympie-gympie sting feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent of having the affected body part caught in a slammed car door. A final stage called allodynia occurs for days after the sting, during which innocuous activities such as taking a shower or scratching the affected skin reignites the pain.

Will I ever venture to Australia? NOPE!

2 thoughts on “In Australia, even the trees can hurt you”

  1. Mate, I’ve lived here for 60 years and have rarely heard of anyone succumbing to these nasties. At least we aren’t burning down our own cities and randomly killing each other.

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