Sunday, February 24, 2008

beware the trees

We went to the Budderoo National Park today to see the Minnamurra Rain Forest. A fantastic elevated wooden walkway through stunning forestry with some massive red cedars and a diverse collection of epiphytes, ferns and generally weird plants.

My favourite was the Giant Stinging Tree (Dendrocnide excelsa ) as it reinforces my theory about the innappropriate toxicity of many living things in this continent..yes folks, introducing the tree that can kill you! The hairs on the leaves and stem contain a concentrated neurotoxin, so potent that when two American servicemen died after being stung in World War Two the US military researched it as a potential biological weapon. One of those deaths was an officer who shot himself rather than attempt to withstand the 3 weeks of excruciating pain after falling into a tree while on military exercises.

The 'cure' is supposedly to rub the sap of the Cunjevo tree that always grow nearby onto the affected area- but that is highly toxic and can be fatal if ingested. So, should you ever be in a positon where you encounter Dendrocnide, always carry a waxed depilating strip so you can rip out the fine silicon hairs if you have the misfortune to get stung.

We failed to spot any pythons dropping from above, but did see a pair of lyrebirds which was quite exciting.

Then back to the coast to Kiama to look at blowholes.

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