Stinging Tree

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Stinging Tree

Postby skywalker » Mon 11 May, 2015 4:08 pm

Hi, I am new to this forum and became a member as to re-ignite my love for bushwalking. Since joining, I went on my first trip on Saturday morning which was meant to be a full day trip tackling a local mountain range with two friends. My trip was cut short only three hours into the trek. Soon after setting off again after a short smoko break, I lost my footing on a loose rock walking cross hill on a steepish slope. In an effort to regain balance, I forcefully placed my left hand down on a fallen log to support myself, not realising that I had fully placed my hand onto what is called a gympie-gympie tree leaf (google it-its nasty stuff), which was laying over the log (there are different stinging species out there, but this bad boy is the worst of them all). The following pain was nothing I had ever dreamt of and to say it was unbearable would be an understatement. The pain was so intense, that it was radiating up my left arm and into my chest, which made me to believe I was about to go into cardiac arrest. It was like holding your hand into fire coals. I was paralysed. To cut a long story short, I had to be rescued by emergency helicopter and taken to hospital (thankfully we had phone reception and a gps). No amount of morphine, fentanyl, endone, neurofen, ibuprofen and paracetomal that the triage gave me did anything at all to reduce the pain. After hours of agonising pain, they received advice from a James Cook University tropical medicine professional to use diluted hydrochloric acid on my hand. Upon inital application which involved placing my whole hand into a bucket of the solution, the sting was five times as bad as the sting itself. I screamed the place down and almost cried like a baby (im a 35yo male) but no amount of pain was going to see me pull my hand out if this was meant to be a cure. Two minutes later...complete and total relief. The pain was 100% gone. No redness, no swelling, no marks. I was calling it a miracle. I was sent home half an hour later. I was almost embarrassed about the whole affair.

The reason for my post is to make everyone aware of the only real treatment for this horrific plant....HYDROCHLORIC ACID, diluted to 1:8 to 1:10. You hear of other treatments that have been used in the past that dont properly treat the pain, but only try to unsuccessfully "remove" the stinging hairs only to aggravate them even further whilst pushing them deeper into their skin or breaking them off and releasing more toxins, and the victim is still in pain years later if they accidentally bump the same place or if they come into contact with cold water etc etc. Dont listen to the "my mate who got stung reckons this, my other mate told me about some guy who had a cousin who did that...". Dont mess around. Use hydrochloric acid to neutralise the toxins, then try using waxstrips to remove the hairs afterwards if you want to.

I still have a few "hairs" in my hand which causes a tickly itch but I have zero pain. Cold water does not bother me and I can clap my hands with no worries at all.

Just trying to help out with the experience I have had, but I dont think it would hurt to include a small vial of HCL, say 150-200mL to your backpack. Speaking from experience I would say it would be completely worth it.
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby Lizzy » Mon 11 May, 2015 6:33 pm

Sounds like you got off to a good start :O hope you next walk is a bit less dramatic. Maybe you need to invest in a good pair of gloves...
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby Strider » Mon 11 May, 2015 7:34 pm

You poor *&%$#!! I bet you'll be calling that researcher at JCU to report your findings :)

It is worth noting for others that HCL exists in many many different concentrations - ranging from completely harmless, to car battery acid.
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby nq111 » Mon 11 May, 2015 7:48 pm

Wow - good to know about that remedy. I can't imagine the pain. We certainly have some nasty stingers (marine and plants) in this part of the world.

Where did the unfortunate incident happen?
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby skywalker » Mon 11 May, 2015 8:13 pm

Definitely to the pair of gloves. The area was a place just southwest of Townsville, called the Pinnacles. I'm sure it's lovely once you get to the top.
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 11 May, 2015 8:51 pm

What a dramatic event! Glad that you have recovered and hope no other will come across this nasty plant.

Moroidin - A neurotoxin, the principle 'ingredient'. Sounded like it's 'Made in Mordor'.

A quote from Wiki...
Contact with the leaves or twigs causes the hollow, silica-tipped hairs to penetrate the skin. The sting causes an extremely painful stinging sensation that can last for days, weeks, or months, and the injured area becomes covered with small, red spots joining together to form a red, swollen mass. The sting is potent enough to kill humans, dogs, and horses, and is infamously agonizing. Stories tell of horses jumping off cliffs after being stung, and supposedly one Australian officer shot himself to escape the pain of a sting. One man who was slapped in the face and torso with the foliage said, "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."


From elsewhere on the net...
... makes mention of a tale that I had encountered previously on the internet, where an unwitting fellow who committed suicide after using the leaf of a stinging tree for "toilet purposes


NB. The fruit of the plant is edible. Did you taste it? ;)
Last edited by GPSGuided on Mon 11 May, 2015 9:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby Bluegum Mic » Mon 11 May, 2015 9:02 pm

Ouch. Glad they had a remedy for you. When living in brissy I bushwalked with a bloke that was in agony having a shower every day 2 years after sitting on a leaf (it got his leg...lucky)
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 11 May, 2015 9:10 pm

A bush remedy.
find the cure for it close bye being the native Alocasia commonly called the cunjevoi, i cut a piece of the cunjevoi off & squeezed the juice & rubbed the piece along his arm where u could see the swelling & redness already developing, within minutes he said the pain was almost completely gone. we kept applying fresh pieces for a few hours & there was no more pain. The aboriginals sure know their stuff.


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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby skywalker » Mon 11 May, 2015 9:36 pm

Bush tucker man was the best show. Loved it growing up. I have read about the cunjevoi. I'm sure it works. Nature has a wonderful way of producing such a remedy for the most awful nasties. I read that it's a companion plant that is always found close by to the stinging trees. Though not sure if I would like to go looking for it when my body seems like it's on fire, when I have HCl in my pack.
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby skywalker » Mon 11 May, 2015 9:45 pm

And yes the tree was full of fruit. They look very tasty but apparently not tasty at all. I haven't tried them. You would have thought with such a fierce defence system the fruit would be the most delicious fruit on the planet that could also cure cancer. Not to be.
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 11 May, 2015 9:53 pm

On cunjevoi... "Deaths have been reported". And I was earlier in the day thinking of taking a trip to NE Queensland for a July walk. Trying to scare me away?
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby skywalker » Mon 11 May, 2015 10:28 pm

Haha not at all. You would have to be damn unlucky to do what I did. There are plenty of walks up here.
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby GPSGuided » Mon 11 May, 2015 10:44 pm

:)
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby north-north-west » Tue 12 May, 2015 8:05 am

Well, that was an 'adventure' that will be hard to top. Glad it's been resolved.

Look on the bright side: it can only get better from here. We hope . . .
"Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens."
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby devoswitch » Tue 12 May, 2015 9:02 am

While walking the Whitsunday Great Walk I brushed my exposed forearm against some Gympie Gympie and I completely understand your pain. Luckily I was only a couple of hours from walking out. Hurt/felt really weird for about 6-8 months after!
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby nq111 » Fri 15 May, 2015 6:23 pm

skywalker wrote: The area was a place just southwest of Townsville, called the Pinnacles. I'm sure it's lovely once you get to the top.


It is - this is what you missed :)

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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby kaite » Mon 18 May, 2015 2:55 pm

i had many brushes with the plant, because it grows around where i live. Also we have not a lot of walking tracks near Mackay so all our walks are off track, i have seen many ppl getting stung. Although it is great to hear about the hydrochloric acid, i will try. We have used many other techniques which give relief, Voltaren, hairspray, spray-on-bandage or PVA glue, (letting it dry and then pulling it off with hairs is my preferred method). I think some ppl are more sensitive to it than others, i think it used to hurt me more in the past.... maybe nerve endings get a bit dull with age..?? Most contacts with the plant are light brushes on the tougher skin regions, - well i mean to say it hurts quite a lot but but in far most cases the pain is bearable.
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby digbyg » Wed 27 May, 2015 3:43 pm

It is quite common in NQ rainforest, but the best clue to watch for is sunlight. If it brightens up while you are walking in forest, there will be the vivid bright green of the leaves somewhere nearby. After your first touch of the leaf, you become quite sensitive to noticing the bright green to avoid the next time.
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Re: Stinging Tree

Postby NQBushy » Sat 10 Oct, 2015 10:43 am

nq111 wrote:
skywalker wrote: The area was a place just southwest of Townsville, called the Pinnacles. I'm sure it's lovely once you get to the top.


It is - this is what you missed :)



Great video and location, where is the entrance for the pinnacles?
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