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Australia’s Plant of Pain

In a country where all the animals are trying to kill you, the Gympie Gympie is a plant that just wants to make you wish you were dead. You don’t even have to touch it to hurt, because the hairlike structures that cover its leaves shed and make the ground around the plant dangerous. And don't even think about using it for toilet paper.

Many would say that endangering the Gympie Gympie is a job well begun. This innocuous-looking greenery is one of the most feared plants in the world. Its sting is so agonizing that a slight brush to the hand from one of the leaves can make a person throw up from the pain.

Not that the leaves are the only dangerous part. Only the roots of the Gympie are free of the fine hairs that lodge in the skin and deliver the sting. Every subsequent moment of pressure on the hairs causes them to put out more poison into the skin. The pain feels like fire, and it lasts. As long as the hairs are embedded in the skin, the pain keeps coming. Stings from the Gympie cause the lymphatic system to go into overdrive. A person's throat, armpits, and groin swell up and ladle on the pain as the lymph nodes expand.

Yes, it’s an endangered species. But who will step up to save the Gympie Gympie? Read more about this horrifying plant at io9. -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Willem van Aken, CSIRO)


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