Would You Invite One Of The World’s Most Dangerous Plants Into Your Home?
by Trisha Leigh
Human beings invite all kinds of beings into their homes, some of which could be lethal to them.
But when it comes to the world’s most dangerous plant, would you risk it?
Botanist Daniel Emlyn-Jones says yes, though he does cultivate the Dendrocnide moroides – or gympie gympie – plant inside a cage.
Just one slight touch of its leaves is said to cause intense, maddening, and sometimes even lasting pain.
For Emlyn-Jones, though, it’s worth the risk.
“I’ve always had a fascination with dangerous plants. I think it’s always interesting to see what nature can come up with, and this is an extremely dangerous plant as you can see from the warning sign.”
Said warning sign promises “agonizing pain” should they choose to touch, and advises anyone who does not to rub their skin but to apply hydrochloric acid and then remove the hair using wax strips.
North Queensland road surveyor A.C. Macmillan first came across the “stinging tree” in 1866, reporting that his horse went mad and died within two hours after touching it.”
People, like Ernie Rider, who have been stung agree the pain is unbearable.
“I remember it feeling like there were giant hands trying to squash my chest. For two or three days the pain was almost unbearable; I couldn’t work or sleep, then it was pretty bad pain for another fortnight or so. The stinging persisted for two years and recurred every time I had a cold shower. There’s nothing to rival it; it’s ten times worse than anything else.’
So why would a botanist want to keep the thing around?
Emlyn-Jones would probably shrug if you asked him directly.
“I just thought it would add a bit of drama to my gardening. I have always liked plants though, I just have got a bit bored with geraniums.”
I suppose variety is the spice of life, though this might be taking that just a bit too far.