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Plant Dendrocnide excelsa (Giant stinging tree)

Corin

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Botanical Name: Dendrocnide excelsa

family: Urticaceae.

Common Name: Giant Stringing Tree

Distribution: Temperate rainforest east coast

Field Notes: Grows up to 40m in height, often found along river systems in shady areas. Has large leaves which administer a nasty sting as the name suggests.

Uses: Whilst the fruit is edible (like the leaves the skin of the fruit can also sting), the main use of this plant was as a source of bark fibre, fine fibre suitable for lines and nets. Chewed bark was used as mop for extracting honey from hives. Cloth made from inner bark used as to make baby's blankets.

The stinging leaves were applied for rheumatism (similar to Europeans use of bees for this purpose)

These things hurt!!! Stay clear of the leaves

Picture to follow
 
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Templar

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Hmmm... I remember these!
and their cousin: Dendrocnide moroides (Common name - Gympie bush/Gympie Gympie)

The best thing to remove the fine hairs is duct tape or if close to the supermarket Hair removal wax strips. if left untreated the stinging sensation can last for months! (Experiance is a wonderful teacher!)
 

Corin

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They grow down in the shoalhaven where we run canoe trips with kids, we have had a few stings over the years... I will be down there again soon like most of the plants I am uploading now I will post pictures as I take them... unless anyone else has some...

I have heard the stings can last, never heard of duct tape for removal, but good to know because duct tape is standard canoe repair kit!
 
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Templar

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Yeah it works ok, but the wax strips are far better... When I was working in FNQLD I would keep a packet in my Aid Bag just in case, thy're cheap and long lasting...
 

Corin

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It may well be worth our while adding some to our kits it is not like they would take up much space. Cheers mate good advice as always.
 

Shane

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Nasty tree. It's been shown that hairs from the tree, 150 years old (read very dead) can still cause major respiratory issues. Stay well clear.
 

Blake

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The stingers on the leaves of this tree are fine microscopic tubes which pierce the skin and allow air into the nerves of your skin. This shock causes great pain. The tape can help remove some of the stingers but not all.

One useful treatment is to use a latex based covering, be it bandages or cream. This helps block any airflow in through the tubes and helps prevent the stinging sensation until they are passed out naturally.
 

Dusty Miller

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dendro1.jpg

Stinging hairs on Gympie Gympie (Dendrocnide moroides)

dendro2.jpg

A small tree. They grow very rapidly.

dendro3.jpg

The leaves are very large.

dendro4.jpg

The trees can become substantial. This isn't as big as they get.

dendro0.jpg

Cunjevoi roots or rhizome (spoon lily) can be used to provide relief from the sting. Cunjevoi leaves and juice should not be ingested, as they contain calcium oxalate crystals which are posionous and can also cause irritation by touch.
Have tried this remedy, provides some temporary relief. These plants often grow together, this being on the other side of the track from the small Gympie Gympie pictured above.

Old leaves that are brown and dead and half rotted in the water can still sting. Another fact I wish I had learned indirectly.
 
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Blake

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Who better than Les and Ray to give us the low down.

2:40 onwards

[video=youtube;2IidjoSWdF4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IidjoSWdF4&feature=related[/video]

8:00 onwards

[video=youtube;kRGYZbjoRF0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRGYZbjoRF0[/video]
 

darren

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I was taught as a lad that spoon lilly is a remedy. Around the barringtons there are heaps of stinging trees but you dont seem to find spoon lilly until your over the eastern side. The stinging tree is like a band aid for the rainforest, if a large tree falls they are one of the first to grow repairing the hole in the canopy
 
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chutes

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I was taught as a lad that spoon lilly is a remedy. Around the barringtons there are heaps of stinging trees but you dont seem to find spoon lilly until your over the eastern side. The stinging tree is like a band aid for the rainforest, if a large tree falls they are one of the first to grow repairing the hole in the canopy

Stinging trees and lawyer vine were the bane of my existence when bush bashing up north - usually found in gaps in the canopy, the fringes of cleared areas, or on the sides of tracks. My first experience with stinging trees was during an off track bash from James Cook University in Cairns up the escarpment to Kuranda. Accidentally brushed one with my arm and I can attest to the fact it stings for months. The first few weeks was uncomfortable until you got used to it, then any time I'd brush the arm it'd start stinging again - couldn't wear long sleeved shirts and the duct tape remedy didn't work. I think such remedies need to be applied very soon after you get stung, it doesn't work days later.

There's an urban legend up north on the Atherton Tablelands about a soldier who was crossing a rope bridge across a gully and fell off into a stand of stinging trees. He extracted himself and got to a field hospital, but days later ended up sucking on the end of a gun because he couldn't stand it. I'd believe that too ;)
 

Dusty Miller

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The first few weeks was uncomfortable until you got used to it, then any time I'd brush the arm it'd start stinging again - couldn't wear long sleeved shirts and the duct tape remedy didn't work.

Having a hot shower brings back the irritation too. Lasts for ages, in the fingertips are particularly unpleasant.
 

Corin

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Wentworth and I did some experimentation with using the bark fiber for fine lines 1-3 mm (and thicker also 6mm).

A few field notes for the lovers or bark fibers out there.

The trunk bark did not seam to produce as good a quality fiber as bark from the branches.
The fibers are almost like silk, but do not come away in long lengths using normal techniques, it may work better to pound the inner bark to remove fibers like is done with sisal.
The fine fibers easily spin into very fine and exceedingly strong line.
The tree does in fact hurt a lot when you touch it :emozionato: and quick removal of the hair is essential. Duct tape works as did careful plucking between a knife blade and fingernail. I would suggest long sleeved shirt, long pants and gloves if you want to work with this plant. I am sure at on point I was stung by the outer bark, so pretty much no part of it is safe.

Anyhow the line pictured could not be broken by hand. I will take pictures of the larger line I made also. Both are three strand twist lines, which due to the short fibers new fiber is added to constantly. The finished product was exceedingly supple and held knots exceedingly well.

DSCN2843.jpg


DSCN2840.jpg


DSCN2835.jpg
 

Dusty Miller

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Some fine buschcrafting there Corin. Interesting that you copped it from the trunk. I wonder what the aborigines did, maybe rubbed something on the tree to get the hairs off before starting. Or something involving flames?
 

Corin

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Yeah dusty miller, I was not expecting anything from the trunk, but there you go. may have been a bud or something their I did not notice. The hardest part is getting to the trunk! I was waring my usual shorts and a tee shirt, so copped it on my arms hands and legs at various times. The area affected was the size of maybe a 10-20c piece but initially it is virtually impossible to work out where on the limb you touched as the whole limb fires up like you have had boiling water over you. After it settles and you locate the hairs causing the issue it is possible to carefully remove them and the pain subsides within a few hours. Any hairs you miss become readily apparent. I would hate for them to wilt and remain in the skin as chutes reported above, it is incredible stuff! I reckon a front hedge of stining tree would be a better deterrent against thieves than any security system!
 
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Aussie123

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The trunk bark did not seam to produce as good a quality fiber as bark from the branches.
The fibers are almost like silk, but do not come away in long lengths using normal techniques, it may work better to pound the inner bark to remove fibers like is done with sisal.

Great work guys. That must be very good quality for such a thin line to be that strong.

It could be that the trunk has older and thicker bark/fibers than the branches. A sapling may give better results ?
 

Corin

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Thanks Chutes, Great information and picture! They are nasty things for sure!

@Aussie, Mate a sapling may work better, but the saplings have no exposed trunk and after my experience with these things I have no intention of going near them again.
 

Aussie123

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Thanks Chutes, Great information and picture! They are nasty things for sure!

@Aussie, Mate a sapling may work better, but the saplings have no exposed trunk and after my experience with these things I have no intention of going near them again.

Many years back I had a brush with one too. I was trying to get to the fruit and I'll swear that I didn't touch a thing - but it got me none the less !
 
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