New Stinging-tree Treatment

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionSend by emailSend by email
Stinging tree

Stinging Trees - and a NEW Treatment for stings

Stinging trees (Gympie-Gympie) are the bane of people in the Australian tropical and sub-tropical coastal areas - especially after disturbances such as cyclones, which trigger the germination of seeds. It becomes quite an issue when children wander into small plants - and are really badly stung.

There are four common types of Australian stinging trees. Two are large rainforest trees growing up to 30 to 35 m. The other two are really little more than bushes growing up to 3 or 4m tall but often seen as a shrub 0.1 to 1m tall. The sting inflicted by the smaller species are by far the most painful. The poison from the smaller species is the most virulent and because of their size people are more likely to blunder into them. All four are closely related and belong to the same family as the common stinging nettles.

(Urticaceae). In Australia the common native nettle is Urtica inscisa.

Note: Please allow IFrames in your browser for this page.


Testing testing - are these

Testing testing - are these moderated, or was my novel too long to post?

Hi Hugh, firstly, thankyou

Hi Hugh, firstly, thankyou for all this information, it's been more helpful than anything else I found after my 10 yr old daughter was stung yesterday. The other reason I'm contacting is that while reading, I notice you mention they can be found as far south as Lismore?

My daughter was stung near the Shoalhaven River while visiting Nowra Animal Park. Her account was that on arriving at the park's office for first aid she was greeted with "oh, did you get stung too? Don't worry, that happens to lots of people". She says they asked her what the leaves looked like - she told them "big, bigger than a Dad's hand, kind of heart-shaped". They told her it was stinging nettle, made her run her hand under cold water for a while & then applied Stingoze (which helped her 2 friends who HAD been stung by stinging nettle which was growing nearby). No wax strips or sticky tape was ever mentioned. they had tweezers but didn't use them because they said she already got ALL of it with her fingers!!

Years ago I read all about stinging trees in Nat Geo & I've kind of been fascinated/in awe of them ever since. We've been to the Shoalhaven Zoo/animal park several times & each timeI saw what looked like Gympie-Gympie growing everywhere (including the cassowary enclosure) & I mean a LOT. But we're so far south & there were no warning signs, so I just assumed it was a look-alike species. Even so, I was very wary of them.

Yesterday my youngest daughter went with another family, & I forgot all about those ominously big leaves I'd seen years earlier- until she came home & said she'd been stung by "nettle". I showed her a pic of stinging nettle & she said that sort was there too but she was stung by "the big nettle". So I showed her your Gympie pic & she said "that's it! That's the stinging nettle I touched".
Now that I know that what I assumed was a look-alike is actually the real thing, I can tell you there's also a big Gympie-Gympie at the Lake Tabourie Tourist Park - south of Ulladulla.

I've found anecdotal evidence on bushcraft sites that it's been identified along the Shoalhaven by others as well. I thought you guys might be interested in Bonnie's story, seeing as this might extend their range (unless it's yet another species - if so, I hope Bonnie gets to help with the naming seeing as she endured a good stinging to bring it to your attention). Anyways, I hope that this leads you to a new source of stinging tree incidents for your studies?? Is there any chance of you guyssending some of your species I.D info & sting treatment info to the Shoalhaven Zoo & Shoalhaven Hosptal? The NSW Poison Line & Westmead Children's Hospital/NSW Dept Health should have the info too but everyone seems to believe it's a QLD only issue - maybe it's a coastal forest issue for the entire east coast? We have semi-tropical pockets here, but it also snows 20-30 mins from Nowra??

Also, Bonnie said the Stingoze did nothing, but Bepanthan REALLY helps?? & Also, also - if you have any advice for helping her with long-term pain flare-ups (I'm hoping that's not an issue) we'd really appreciate hearing from you. Thanks again, Justine & Bonnie, near Jervis Bay, NSW.

stinging tree treatment

2 Thumbs up! The diluted Hydrochorlic acid worked a treat for me.
Had tried wax strips but believe many of the nettles were under the skin by this time and so was generally ineffective method. The diluted acid on tissue sponge for 30 minutes neturalised the area and gave instant relief with little ongoing issues.

New Stigning Tree Treatment?!

Hi Hugh

So what is the new treatment?


Click on the text and then

Click on the text and then scroll down, the treatments are listed at the bottom :)

Stinging Tree treatment

Wax affected area or use some very sticky tape on affected area and this should remove the hairs from the plant that are causing the sting or irritation. Only use the piece of tape once and dispose then get a new piece of tape.

My Stinging Tree experience


My Son and I recently stayed at Hamilton Island (NE Queensland) where we walked about 50m off a walking track and unfortunately were stung by a Stinging Tree leaf.

Although luckily for my Son he was stung on the foot. I unfortunately was stung around my upper arm and elbow region.. Let me tell you the pain is horrific nearly immediately and continues on and off every few minutes.

After taking us 3 hours to get back to the township we mentioned the Stinging Nestle to a local worker (thinking it was a basic nestle, and when he asked us to explain what the leaf looked like, he then told us to seek medical attention immediately (good advice).

Upon being consulted by the resident doctor, we were immediately taken next door to a Waxing Parlor where they applied warm wax and stripped the area. Lets just say that was rather painful... Although that seems to relieve some of the pain, it was far from over.

The only advice the doctor could give us was to buy a pair of tweezers and continue to remove the hairs that we could see and to take heavy medication..

My pain was excruciating for the next few days, I was unable to have my arm in water and sleeping was a nightmare.. 3 weeks later I am still in a lot of pain and having to wax daily and use my faithful pair of tweezers at any opportunity I can to remove the new hairs that are pushed through the skin daily.

I have tried the following:
* The hydrachloric acid (7 parts water and 1 part Acid)
* Un-diluted Dettol
* Various topical creams
* Heavy pain killers (inc Endone)
* Waxing (only thing that really works)

Therefore, if you read this post and you thing about visiting a rainforest, please keep an eye out for this plant - Especially for the little ones as I believe the pain would kill them.

If anyone has a remedy I would be very happy to hear it

New treatment

If you use the scroll down box the treatment is toward the end and the title is in RED