Australia- The Gimpie Gimpie

I really shouldn’t be surprised that along with the world’s most dangerous sea creatures and land animals that Australia is also home to one of the most deadly plants in the world: The Gimpie Gimpie.  Do not let the pansy-sounding name fool you, this innocent looking plant seems like it would be something out of a sick horror film.

The plant is completely covered in small looking hairs.  Turns out they are silica-tipped thorn like tubes.  Brush up against it, even slightly, and you will endure the most excruciating pain that lasts… not for a couple of minutes or hours, not for a couple of days or weeks but a couple of months.  Three to six months to be exact, if you’re on the younger side of life.  Our rain forest tour guide mentioned that he once met an elderly gentleman who had accidentally brushed up against it and dealt with The Gimpie Gimpie pain for ten years.

So of course, I was morbidly fascinated and needed to know what exactly this plant did.  I was informed that in coming into contact with it releases the silica-tipped thorns into your skin. And there is no way to get them out. People have attempted to use depilation wax to remove the thorns, and although it can sometimes work, there is no cure for the pain and no way to thoroughly remove all the needles.  So this means you have to wait until the thorns slowly and very painfully break down into your skin while your body fights it out of your system.

Turns out that American soldiers are well acquainted with the plant.  Apparently in the past, Australian soldiers had a distinct disliking for American soldiers as they charmed away all the Australian women.  In retaliation, Australian soldiers would sneak into the American soldier’s camp and switch the plain plant leaves (used as toilet paper at the time) with Gimpie Gimpie leaves.  Needless to say, after this happened verbally charming women was as far as those soldiers could get with the Australian women.

I thought this was the worst of the plant.  Turns out that is just the beginning.  If you’re unfortunate enough to be around the plant when it is shaken roughly, you will be dead with in a few moments by suffocation.  What do you suffocate from?  Your  own blood.  Apparently the plant releases some kind of chemical into the air which, if inhaled by humans, will cause the lungs to start violently bleeding.

The only way to completely handle this plant is with full bio-hazard suits.  And in fact that is actually what is used when attempting to clear patches out of the rain forest or to check rain forests after fires.

How to look out for it?  The deliciously-tasting completely harmless bright red little berries that hang from it.  Of course.  What is pleasure without a little pain?


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