Are you one of those people who love to touch leaves and plants? If you are, think again because the gympie gympie plant will make you wish you never did. And as it turns out, there's no antidote for this plant's sting! Better be careful now than regret it later.
But what exactly makes this plant so dangerous?
Well, for one, it has thousands of prickly needle-like hairs. These hairs have poison, so even when they're one of the tiniest things on Earth, no one would dare to underestimate them, especially when it makes the plant sting so hard.
When you touch these, you'll experience something described to feel like hot acid touching your skin. When it contacts your skin, the area can whiten and swell. And, if its effects get worse, liquid may drip out.
But it doesn't end with this!
You also won't be able to wash the pain away. The sting may stay with you for weeks, months, or even years. And, if you happen to have its hair stuck in your skin—beware because it may not ever leave your body.
Tiktok user, @thebackyardscientist, told his viewers that if he got 1 million views, he would TOUCH this plant to see how it feels. The audience did not disappoint...the video gathered over 4 million views. So, he delivered on his promise, and touched it. Check out his experience and the aftermath—
@thebackyardscientist I touched the plant 😵😵 2 hours later still hurts #tiktokpartner #learnontiktok ♬ original sound - Backyard Scientist
Australia is known for having crazy flora and fauna, and this plant is no exception. You can watch this video to learn more about the gympie gympie:
Just imagine how painful touching this plant must be. It's said to be so dangerous that even when it has been cut off for weeks, it will still have the same painful effect.
Indeed, we never know what nature has in store for us. Most times, it's just beautiful and peaceful, but sometimes, it's what this plant can be— dangerous.
Gympie Gympie 101: A Guide To The World's Most Dangerous Plant
We all love being one with nature, so knowing about the gympie gympie's presence can make us wary.
As most say, have your friends close and your (plant) enemies closer.
And where else can we start with getting to know something if not by memorizing its appearance?
For starters, gympie gympie's leaves are broad and almost oval. This can grow for up to five meters but is also commonly small.
When you look close enough, it'll look furry; note that these hairs make it poisonous, so don't touch it. The toxins on its fur are heat and water-resistant, making it even more dangerous.
You can typically find them near streams, but let's hope you don't. But don't worry too much; they're in Australia, so the chances of accidentally stepping on them are low. Plus, most come with a warning sign nearby, so all you have to do is look around.
The Sting of Death: True Stories of People Who Crossed Paths With Gympie Gympie
Trial and error are what usually births new plant discoveries. Our ancestors always used this fool-proof way to determine which were poisonous plants and which weren't.
So, you can only imagine how bad it must've been for the one who first touched the plant only to discover the painful truth about it. And a lot of other people had encounters with it too!
The First Encounter
Surprise—we got a documented report of what may be the gympie gympie's first sting!
A.C. Macmillan, from North Queensland, first reported to his boss in 1866 that his horse got stung by the plant, saying it "was stung, got mad, and died within two hours."
But we can't for sure know if this is genuinely the first encounter with the plant; it's just the first to be documented. Many other tales and stories about the plant have also circulated during this time.
A Myriad of Famous Gympie Gympie Encounters
Personal encounters with the gympie gympie don't stop with the first encounter.
Cyril Bromley tells another famous story about an officer during WWII who used the plant's leaves as toilet paper. The horror, right? It got so bad that the same officer shot himself, which may have contributed to the infamous name of the gympie gympie, "the suicide plant."
Bromley himself fell victim to the plant during his WWII training exercises. This event got him into a hospital bed, describing the pain as "as mad as a cut snake."
A botanist Ernie Rider was proof of lasting pain when his face, arm, and chest got into contact with the plant in 1963. Guess what? The pain lasted until 1965!
Rider described the sensation as "feeling like there were giant hands trying to squash my chest."
According to Marina Hurley, an expert in stinging trees, it's "the worst kind of pain you can imagine." Well, she for sure knows better about this because she also got stung by the plant.
The descriptions from all these people aren't a mere exaggeration. You will feel an immediate burning pain when you touch it. This only worsens after 20 to 30 minutes, and your arms' lymph nodes will swell.
Indeed, the gympie gympie is a stinging sensation in the plant world.
The Gympie Gympie— The Plant You Should Avoid At All Costs
Although the gympie gympie is known to be dangerous today, no cure or antidote is available. But, doctors advise people not to rub the areas that came in contact with the plant and pour diluted hydrochloric acid to alleviate the pain. But note that the pain will still be there after.
From all the information and horrors about the suicide plant, it's understandable to avoid anything that looks similar.
Gympie gympie, infamous for its hazardous nature, proves that the heart can bite back when we meddle with it too much.