WWW: Deadly Australian Tree
Content Warning: Scary things in Australia (Jay, you can’t read this until after the trip)
In 1866, a road surveyor in North Queensland documented that his horse “got stung, was mad, and died within two hours,” of coming into contact with a certain tree.
The Gympie-Gympie is one of four species of stinging trees in Australia and is said to have the most painful sting of all.
It is technically a soft-wood shrub that can sometimes reach 5m, though it is typically found as a shrub shorter than 1m.
The leaves appear fuzzy, but when brushed, the little silica hairs break off into “self-injecting hypodermic needles.” The initial sting is said to feel like that of a wasp and the sting site becomes white and swollen. The hairs can remain embedded causing pain for up to months.
It is worth noting that the toxins in the hairs are preserved by the hair exterior and are capable of stinginging even after the leaf is dead.
The best treatment is to apply a 1:10 dilution of hydrochloric acid to neutralize the peptide coating on the hairs and then use waxing strips on the area to remove the hairs. Rubbing the site should be avoided as much as possible as this may break off the hairs and keep them embedded in your skin.
Source: Australian Graphic