In Australia, stinging trees bristle with needle-like hairs which deliver a potent neurotoxin to anyone foolish enough to touch them . A string of hospitalizations–one victim described "100 per cent the worst pain ever"–has authorities in Queensland warning people to stay away.
Ms Lewis was transferred to the Cairns Private Hospital, where she stayed for seven days, being treated with pain medication. She went home with pain killers and "lived with heat packs strapped to my legs for a very long time". It was almost Christmas before she was able to wean herself off the medication. And nine months after the accident, she still feels pain akin to someone "snapping rubber bands" on one section of her leg if the skin is exposed to air conditioning.
More on the culprit:
D. moroides is notorious for its extremely painful sting which may leave victims suffering for weeks or even months. Researchers at the University of Queensland recently discovered that the plant produces a neurotoxin similar to that of a spider or cone snail. It is reputed to be the most poisonous plant in Australia, if not the world (by touch). After contact with the plant the victim will feel an immediate severe burning and stinging at the site of contact, which then intensifies further over the next 20 to 30 minutes and will last from hours to several days before subsiding. During this time the victim may get little sleep because of the intensity of the pain. In severe cases it may cause urticaria, and the lymph glands under the arms may swell and become painful, and there have been rare cases of hospitalisation.
Alternative names for the tree include "stinging brush, mulberry-leaved stinger, gympie, gympie stinger, stinger, moonlighter," and, for those who aren't getting the message, "the suicide plant."