Gardener Neil Fisher with the Shiny-Leaved Stinging Tree or Gympie Gympie that is covered in poisonous hairs.
Gardener Neil Fisher with the Shiny-Leaved Stinging Tree or Gympie Gympie that is covered in poisonous hairs. ALLAN REINIKKA

It's bark will give you a bite

IT looks like a Mulberry tree, but it stings like a blue bottle jellyfish.

Gardening guru and The Morning Bulletin columnist Neil Fisher yesterday revealed a poisonous shrub has been thriving in residential areas affected by last October’s Rockhampton bushfires.

Neil said the plant, called the Shiny-Leaved Stinging Tree or Gympie Gympie, is mostly found where there had been a disturbance to the bushland, and had spread to backyards in fire-affected areas from birds eating the shrubs’ Mulberry-like fruits.

The plant can grow to two metres high and is covered in fine stinging hairs that contain poison.

“In every one of the hairs there is a hollow tube that keeps injecting the poison,” Neil said.

When touched, the poison causes a stinging pain that starts as a tingling sensation and develops into a stabbing pain.

The poison also causes redness, sweating and red swollen spots.

“It’s (the pain) the closest I know to grabbing a blue bottle,” Neil said. “I’ve always been very wary of the plant.”

But even Neil has been a victim of the shrub’s “nasty bite”.

Last week while in his Koongal garden, Neil reached for a plant and felt a stinging pain in his hand before he found this shrub (pictured).

“I never knew how painful it was...I’m worried about a little kid near a plant like that,” he said.

Neil said if you are stung, the best thing is to use sticky tape or wax to remove the stinging hairs.

STINGING TREE

Shiny-leaved Stinging Tree or Gympie Gympie

Common dry shrub found in parts of Berserker Wilderness area

Looks like a mulberry tree

All parts are covered in fine, stinging hairs that contain poison

The poison causes redness, sweating, red swollen spots that may persist for days



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