The plant is covered in stinging hairs that once touched can inflict pain that lasts for years. One time a guy used it as toilet paper by accident and killed himself because the pain was too strong.
My only source for this information is an article by the Australian Geographic called Gympie Gympie: Once stung, never forgotten and an article called Being Stung by the Gympie Gympie Tree Is the Worst Kind of Pain You Can Imagine by Oddity Central. However, the Oddity Central article is very similar and it uses the Australian Geographic article as its source.
The article(s) states:
Cyril Bromley described falling into a stinging tree during military training on the tableland in World War II. Strapped to a hospital bed for three weeks and administered all manner of unsuccessful treatments, he was sent “as mad as a cut snake” by the pain. Cyril also told of an officer shooting himself after using a stinging-tree leaf for “toilet purposes”.
[ ... ] tales abound in local folklore of horses jumping in agony off cliffs and forestry workers drinking themselves silly to dull the intractable pain.
- Can the pain last for years?
This seems to be the case as Earnie Rider claims "The stinging persisted for two years and recurred every time I had a cold shower." This is my only source.
- Have animals (such as horses) been known to kill themselves in agony?
- Have humans committed suicide due to the pain?