Featured / General Gardening / July 4, 2023

Gympie Gympie: The stinging new addition to The Poison Garden

The Alnwick Garden has welcomed a stinger of a plant as the official unveiling of Gympie Gympie happened this week!

Imagine being set on fire and electrocuted at the same time, got that image in your head? Well that is what an interaction is like with the native Australian plant Gympie Gympie which was recently added to our weird and wonderful collection here at The Poison Garden in Alnwick, Northumberland. Known as the ‘Australian Stinging Tree’ it is described as being the word’s most venomous plant with its nettle like exterior and tiny brittle hairs packing a punch if touched!

Sitting proudly in a glass cage, under strict lock and key, we are taking all precautions necessary to keep our gardeners safe! Situated next to Cannabis, Ricin, Henbane and hundreds of narcotic and poisonous plants all with the aim of educating and entertaining.

Gympie Gympie – whose technical name is dendrocnide moroides – was discovered in its native Australia when a road surveyor’s horse was stung, went mad and ‘died within two hours’ in 1866. Its name comes from the language of the Indigenous Gubbi Gubbi people of south-eastern Queensland.

The plant usually flowers and produces its fruits when it is less than 3m tall, and it could reach up to 10m in height. The stem, branches, petioles, leaves, and fruits are all covered in the stinging hairs and not to be touched, warns John.

The tiny brittle hairs (known as trichomes) are loaded with toxins over the entire plant and if touched, stay in the skin for up to a year, and release the toxin cocktail into the body during triggering events such as touching the affected area, contact with water, or temperature changes,” he added.

“Even if touched for even a second, the tiny hair-like needles will deliver a burning sensation that will intensify for the next 20 to 30 minutes, continuing for weeks or even months. In some cases, it’s been said that the pain is so intense it can lead to suicide!”

If you wish to see the newest addition, make your way to The Alnwick Garden and complete a tour at The Poison Garden (included with your ticket)