Re: birding-aus Gympie-Gympie

To: "Victor Yue" <>
Subject: Re: birding-aus Gympie-Gympie
From: Peter Woodall <>
Date: Mon, 05 Jul 1999 16:14:26 +1000
At 13:31 5/07/1999 +0800, you wrote:
>[Re-sending ... the email bounced twice. Hope I am not sendng multiple copes.
>Hi folks,
>I hope you don't mind me asking this non-birding question here. I was in Cairns
>recently, and in one of the nature tour, I was shown the Gympie-Gympie
>Tree). I am not sure if this is in abundance and if any fellow birder has
got in
>touch with it. (^^) I understand that once it come into contact with the skin,
>the person would feel the pain, for months. Not sure if this would affect the
>bird that accidentally lands on it. (^^)
>My question is: Where can I get more information on this? I was told that a
>particular caterpillar feeds on the leaves of the Gympie-Gympie. I am also
>trying to follow this trail.
>My apologies if I break the rule. Just wanting to find any lead to the answers.
>Victor Yue.


Yes, the Stinging Tree is quite common in the coastal forests of eastern
Queensland and northern New South Wales, several species in the genus
Dendrocnide. [-cnide as in Cnidarians, dendro = tree]

I have been "stung" several times. A light brush was more or less like a
nettle. A more severe brush caused worse - severe pain that did persist for
weeks afterwards, often brought on by changes in temperature eg having a
bath.  I think this is because silica needles are left in the skin.
I suspect that a bird's plumage, thick scales on the feet, would largely
protect it.

The large round leaves are often severly chewed, one culprit (and there
may be more) is the "white nymph", a nymphalid butterfly Mynes geoffroyi.
The larvae feed gregariously on the foliage of Dendrocnide moroides, D.
photinophylla (stinging trees) and Pipturus argenteus - all Urticaceae.
- several pupae may occur together beneath one leaf.
Ref. Common and Waterhouse 1972. Butterflies of Australia.

Guides take delight in telling tales of "new chums" being caught short
in the bush and using the nice round leaves as toilet paper!



Dr Peter Woodall                          email = 
Division of Vet Pathology & Anatomy             
School of Veterinary Science & An. Prod.  Phone = +61 7 3365 2300
The University of Queensland              Fax   = +61 7 3365 1355
Brisbane, Qld, Australia 4072             WWW  =
"hamba phezulu" (= "go higher" in isiZulu)


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