Gympie Gympie Ouchy Ouchy: Worlds Most Venomous Plant?

When I was a small child, playing in the fields, parks and the countryside of the UK, there was one plant that we always had to make sure that we didn’t “literally” bump into.

The stinging nettle.

Yes, stinging nettles, object of great fear and source of enormous pain. As much as we knew about them, as often as we were warned, inevitably somebody would get stung.

Ouchy ouchy!

If, somehow, you would fall into a whole bunch of stinging nettles, there would be many ouchy ouchies! And sometimes tears.

But now I am a grown adult and I live in Australia. No more fear of stinging nettles. That fear has been replaced by…

The Fear of the Gympie Gympie

Gympie Gympie Tree“Dendrocnide moroides, also known as the Gympie Gympie, moonlighter, or stinger, is a large shrub native to rainforest areas in north-eastern Australia, the Moluccas and Indonesia. It is best known for stinging hairs which cover the whole plant and deliver a potent neurotoxin when touched. It is the most virulent species of stinging tree.”

Source: Wikipedia

This is one of the world’s most venomous plants, capable of killing dogs, horses and humans. If it doesn’t kill you, expect months of excruciating pain. On the Australian Geographic website about the plant, they describe the pain as “like being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time..”

The plant is relatively common in Queensland; but it is rare to see them in the southernmost part of the state. That makes me very happy, because that’s where I live. Gympie, by the way, is a Queensland town about 170 km North of Brisbane.

Now, I’m not sure if you get this chap on a TV near you, but here we sometimes have a program called Bite Me With Dr Mike Leahy. He describes himself as a virologist; I’d be more inclined to describe him as a nutter!

He allows dangerous critters and creatures to sting or bite him so that he can experience the pain. Now he is also including plants.

Here is the nutter, sorry, virologist, stinging himself on a Gympie Gympie….

Update May 2015: sadly, the video of Dr Mike Leahy subjecting himself to immense pain has been removed from YouTube, apparently because of copyright law infringement or something? So instead, here is one from It Will Kill You…

Not so sure about that hydrochloric acid treatment towards the end, you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re doing before you try that one. Best plan of all though, is avoid the Gympie Gympie plant.

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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Zazel March 17, 2014, 7:24 am | Link

    I planted stinging nettle under a basement window under my garage. The window could be easy to access for break-ins. Nothing in there but with the nettle there, anyone crawling around where they shouldn’t be will be taking a souvenir with them. Much better looking than bars. Just have to watch when the plant goes to seed or it can spread to places you don’t want it growing.

    • BobinOz March 17, 2014, 8:36 pm | Link

      Interesting home security plan, what could possibly go wrong? 🙂

  • Sede May 31, 2012, 6:14 pm | Link

    I live in Nagaland, North-East India, & there is a very similar venomous plant here. We call it ‘pfhiipedi.’ I had actualy touched it’s seed/flower petal, & my hands felt like being burnt for 1 week!!

    • BobinOz June 1, 2012, 12:04 am | Link

      Hi Sede

      Yes, beenamanu from Kerala says they have them there too. So obviously this plant is in India. You need to get all those little hairs out otherwise it will keep on giving you problems.

      Sounds painful!

  • maree May 15, 2012, 8:16 pm | Link

    Well im glad that there not in Gympie as thats where my father in law lives too. I hate stinging nettles, odd you can drink them though.

    • BobinOz May 15, 2012, 10:26 pm | Link

      Maybe we could make a drink Of the Gympie Gympie?

      • SvenTheBold January 22, 2016, 6:29 pm | Link

        Well, we always knew that iocane powder comes from Australia…

  • Liv April 29, 2012, 12:01 am | Link

    Stinging nettles – eh? How easy we had it, growing up in England!

    • BobinOz April 30, 2012, 9:43 pm | Link

      Seemed tough when I was eight years old, those things were painful! And wasps! Scary!!

      And now I live in Australia 🙂

  • beenamanu April 27, 2012, 7:30 pm | Link

    actually thanks for the description about these plants…….a lots of child hood memories are marching in my mind…….we are afraid of these plants once ….( now also ha ha ha…) after a long years now I see that in your photos… in kerala ,in our mother tongue Malayalam we say as ‘chorithanam’ means itching plant or biting plant…….

    my God what a man that mike !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    wish all the best and nice days… heavy rain n thundering out side……so today is not the best day

    warm regards

    • BobinOz April 30, 2012, 8:44 pm | Link

      “Itching plant”? Itching! You must all be pretty tough out there in Kerala 🙂

      Thanks beena!

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