Of course it’s Australian.
You always see list of deadliest toxins, but almost never lists of least fun toxins. I mean, a bite from a taipan snake will kill you dead, but in a brisk and orderly fashion that will unfold from “Ow, bugger, what was that” to “x_x” in about an hour.
The reaction to the gympie gympie stinging tree, however, can last for months, during which time there is precious little they can do for you except pump you full of steroids and strap you down to a table with a brace in your mouth so you don’t do yourself serious injury. In the 1960s, British military scientists studied the tree for its potential as a biological weapon.
The research was apparently abandoned, for reasons which have never been released to the public; but if I had to take a guess, I’d look to the example of civilian research scientist Marina Hurley, who spent three years studying the gympie gympie, and was forced to abandon her research when, despite using every manner of precaution, her exposure to the plant’s neurotoxin nevertheless led to hospitalization. The hairs on the plant which carry the toxin, you see, are regularly shed, and become airborne, at which point they can be inhaled and cause severe nosebleeds, asphyxiation, and anaphylactic shock.
One survivor of a brush with a gympie gympie described the stinging persisting for over two years, made worse whenever he took a cold shower.
Sources: 1 2 3
Writers, here’s an idea. A grim one, but we can always use those, too.