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Gypsy's Eye, or Dendrocnide moroides is a rainforest tree that has stinging hairs that cover the whole plant and deliver a potent neurotoxin when touched. It is the most toxic of the entire species of stinging trees. The bright pink fruit is edible if the stinging hairs are removed.

The Gypsy's Eye usually grows as a single-stemmed plant reaching 1–3 metres in height. It has large, heart-shaped leaves about 12–22 cm long and 11–18 cm wide, with finely toothed margins.

Toxicity

Contact with the leaves or twigs causes the hollow, silica-tipped hairs to penetrate the skin. The hairs cause an extremely painful stinging sensation that can last for days, weeks, or months, and the injured area becomes covered with small, red spots joining together to form a red, swollen welt. The sting is infamously agonizing, as some Ewes that were stung were reported to jump off a cliff to stop the pain.

However, the sting does not stop several species, including the Babirusa, insects and birds from eating the leaves. Moroidin, a bicyclic octapeptidecontaining an unusual C-N linkage between tryptophan and histidine, was first isolated from the leaves and stalks of Dendrocnide moroides, and subsequently shown to be the principal compound responsible for the long duration of the stings.

Trivia

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