A U.K. Man Is Currently Growing a Venomous House Plant “That Feels Like Being Burned and Electrocuted”

published Nov 15, 2022
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In an effort to add a bit of “drama” to his plant collection, Oxford man Daniel Emlyn-Jones decided to acquire and care for the world’s most venomous plant — the gympie-gympie, which is native to Australia, New Guinea, and Malaysia.

The gympie-gympie plant is a member of the stinging nettle family, with its leaves covered in hairlike needles that can cause searing pain in humans and animals for years. According to Yahoo! News, being poked by a gympie-gympie needle feels like being burned with acid and electrocuted at the same time. And because the needles are so densely packed on the gympie-gympie’s leaves, it’s rare you’re ever being poked by just one at a time.

After being stung, victims may experience swelling, rash, and pain that can last for several days or several months. In some cases, hospitalization is needed, though the active pain stimulant peptide in the plant, morphoidin, cannot be relieved with morphine.

Even so, Emlyn-Jones keeps his gympie-gympie in a cage behind a “danger” sign. And he makes sure the leaves are nowhere near the cage’s bars to save guests from potential pain. He handles it with heavy-duty, elbow-length gloves. He said he wants to interest other people in unusual plants.

“I don’t want to come over as a loon,” he said, as reported by Yahoo. “I’m doing it very safely.” So far, Emlyn-Jones has had only a slight brush with pain when a needle pricked him through his gloves. He insists it wasn’t that awful, he told Oxford Mail.

Will more people decide to take up raising gympie-gympies now that Emlyn-Jones has made the news? Consumers over 18 can legally buy the plant online.

The site Jungle Leaves advises, “In cases of particularly severe contact, the pain is said to last for months and to flare up again even years later when the affected areas are irritated (e.g. by touch or by warm water when showering). The pain is caused by the peptide morphoidin and cannot be relieved with morphine. You don’t even have to touch the plant to feel its effect. Even in a light wind, the fine hairs are constantly coming loose and can thus cause eye irritation, sneezing and coughing if you are just standing nearby.”

Luckily for Indigenous Australian mammals, bugs, and birds, the plant don’t seem to cause the same effects.

Though the gympie-gympie definitely adds drama to a houseplant collection, you might want stick with monsteras and pothos for the time being.