The Stinging Tree, Gympie Gympie, and Other Dangers of Queensland.

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Yes, you read that right we have a stinging tree in Queensland. It’s not just a bit “ouch” it’s more searing blinding agony that can persist for months. It’s not going to kill you with venom, but suicide could sound like a good option. Yes, it’s that bad. This post is about Gympie Gympie, the stinging tree or suicide plant of Queensland (and parts of New South Wales) Australia. Plus a few other local dangers or hazards.

First up, I’ll tell you not to worry, I lived in Far North Queensland for 7+ years and only met one woman who had been stung.

A tiny accidental touch to her finger caused her pain which she described as way, way, worse than labour. And she was in labour for 3 days.

We did, many years after I published this post, find a Gympie Gympie plant in our garden on the Atherton Tablelands.

The photos of this Gympie Gympie are in this post.

So it’s not something to be blazé about, but the Australian stinging tree is real and you do have to think about it. You may see warning signs like this in Qld.

The Stinging Tree

Stinging tree warning sign queensland cairns port douglas daintree
Ok, so it’s there, this warning sign is at a popular swimming hole near Cairns, but it won’t jump out of the jungle and chase you down the path. Just don’t go trekking into the forest too much.

If you’d like to see a living specimen of a stinging tree, last time I was visiting Port Douglas, there was a small specimen at Cairns Zoom and a healthy-looking stinging plant at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures.

You can find this plant in the forest surrounding Mossman Gorge, Crystal Cascades, and Lake Tinaroo.

You could possibly bump into it just about anywhere, so exercise caution if you’re tempted to leave paths or visit the Daintree without a guide.

Also known as Gympie Gympie, the plant’s Latin name is Dendrocnide Excelsa or Dendrocnide Moroides, and is a member of the Urticaceae (stinging nettle family).

I have no idea why I’ve been able to find two different names listed, both claimed as being the stinging tree. For more on our herbivorous hazard, check out the video below.

The photo below is of a plant we found in our garden in Queensland. We haven’t got a firm ID on it, but we think it is very likely to be Gympie Gympie. If you know for sure, please do tell us in the comments.

Gympie Gympie Stringing Tree or stinging plant. Possibly.
Possible Gympie Gympie or stinging tree or plant found locally. The plant is difficult to identify as there are many different plants in Google image search that are named as Gympie Gympie. This plant is covered in fine hairs and I won’t be touching it to find out. Do you know for sure? The leaves are large, rough-textured, and heart-shaped.

Other Hazards in Far North Queensland

Obviously we have saltwater crocodiles, you could find them in just about any body of water. They tend to hang about on our golf courses in Port Douglas.

Sharks aren’t really a problem but you’ll likely see some small not-so-dangerous ones on your Great Barrier Reef tour. Great Whites are a cold-water fish, you’d be very lucky to see one in tropical Port Douglas.

There are bull sharks in the Daintree River, and possibly elsewhere.

Rare and endangered, but nonetheless dangerous, are cassowaries.

Sightings are fairly common in the Daintree Rainforest, there are also a few in the hills behind Port Douglas. They can famously disembowel you with their feet.

We also have our fair share of snakes and spiders, including tarantulas and of course the marine stingers which enter our coastal waters during stinger season.

There are both venomous snakes and large pythons.

golden orb spider
Our local golden orb spiders may look dangerous, but they’re no real threat. This one was the size of a dinner plate.
Salt Water Crocodile Queensland
The standard advice is to stay around 10m away from any body of water. Saltwater crocodiles turn up in the most unexpected places.
cassowary queensland
He’s just figuring out how best to kill you.

But don’t worry, honestly, the streets of Far North Queensland aren’t littered with disembowelled, bitten, dismembered or envenomed corpses. Most people come out alive! It’s a beautiful part of the world. Are you brave enough to come visit?

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

3 thoughts on “The Stinging Tree, Gympie Gympie, and Other Dangers of Queensland.”

  1. Hi, many thank a lot for this article. We travel many times and Queensland is without doubt a dream destination. And after reading your article it appears like Queensland shall be our next trip but with a mindful eye. Really very helpful 🙂

  2. Seeing those “dinner plate” size spiders really creep me out!! For us Americans in the northern parts, we just aren’t accustomed to those steroid sized insects, Yikes.


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