A British gardener has set up a cage inside his home to house what is considered to be the world’s most venomous plant.
Daniel Emlyn-Jones, 49, decided to grow the notorious gympie-gympie – typically found in Australia – in his Oxford home, where it sits in a locked cage marked with a 'danger' sign.
Gympie-gympie – also known as the Australian stinging tree – is a nettle-like shrub that is said to be capable of delivering a sting like 'being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time’.
People stung by the plant will feel the pain intensify quickly – and it can last for several days or even months.
Victims may suffer sleep loss due to the intense pain and in some cases sufferers will develop swelling and may need to be hospitalised.
However, online tutor Emlyn-Jones is not swayed by the dangers and decided to order seeds from Australia to house the plant at his home, although he handles it with elbow length gloves as a precaution.
He told the Oxford Mail: “I just thought it would add a bit of drama to my gardening…
“If you grasp it, it’s probably not a good idea, but I’ve been slightly stung by it through the fabric bit on the back of my heavy duty elbow length gloves and that wasn’t awful…
“I do keep the cage locked though, and I keep the leaves away from the bars as if someone came too close and brushed against it that’d be quite risky.”
Emlyn-Jones said that he wants to promote an interest in plants by cultivating unique flora, adding: “I don't want to come over as a loon. I'm doing it very safely.”
Gympie-gympie, also known as dendrocnide moroides, is a plant in the nettle family Urticaceae and found in rainforest areas of Malesia and Australia.
If touched for even a second, tiny hair-like needles will deliver a burning sensation, while victims have reported being sent into sneezing fits, developing allergies, experiencing massive red rashes and having their limbs swell up painfully.
Researchers at the University of Queensland recently discovered that the plant produces a neurotoxin similar to that of a spider, while treatment includes using hair removal wax or sticky tape to remove the hairs from the skin.
The plant was discovered in its native Australia when a road surveyor's horse was stung by it in 1866.
Despite the dangers of the plant, there has only been one confirmed death attributed to any dendrocnide species – in New Guinea in 1922.