Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Dendrocnide cordifolia (L.S.Sm.) Jackes & M.Hurley

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers and fruit [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Inflorescences and young leaf [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Leaf [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Habit and leaves [not vouchered]. © G. Sankowsky
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Jackes, B.R. & Hurley, M. (1997) Austrobaileya 5: 122.

Common name

Stinger; Gympie


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub 1-4 m tall.


Twigs, petioles and both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade clothed in stinging hairs which inflict long-lasting pain. Petioles long, often longer than the leaf blade and attached to the edge of the leaf blade. Leaf blades often large, about 16-22 cm diam. Lateral and reticulate veins depressed on the upper surface.


Flowers small, densely packed in inflorescences about 4-9 cm long. Each male flower surrounded by numerous female flowers in each inflorescence. Perianth about 1 mm long, clothed in translucent stinging hairs. Ovary glabrous.


Infructescence short and dense, borne in the leaf axils, fruits very small. Nuts or achenes about 2 mm long, resemble small seeds and are surrounded by the fleshy swollen receptacles or pedicels. Style moribund but persistent at the apex of the fruit.


Cotyledons +/- orbicular, about 4 mm diam. First pair of leaves opposite or subopposite and clothed in stinging hairs, margin toothed. At the tenth leaf stage: all parts clothed in stinging hairs, leaf base cordate, petiole long, often longer than the leaf blade, stipules about 4-6 mm long, 2-awned at the apex. Seed germination time 27 to 28 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Queensland, occurs in NEQ. Altitudinal range from 100-1200 m. Usually grows in disturbed areas (particularly where the soil has been disturbed by tractors during logging) in upland and mountain rain forests. Sometimes found at lower elevations when adjacent to high mountains.

Natural History & Notes

All parts of this species inflict a painful sting which can last for months. If someone receives a significant sting over a wide area of a limb, as a result of being hit hard by the plant, little or no sleep will be obtained the first night following the sting. Major stings cause the affected tissue to exude lymph and pains are experienced in lymph glands in the armpit or groin. Working among plants and disturbing them cause fits of sneezing and copious production of mucous from the nasal membrane.

Laportea cordifolia L.S.Sm., Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 70: 31(1959), Type: Queensland, ca. 4 miles S.W. of Atherton, Forestry Reserve 99 Western, 4 Sept. 1957, L.S.Smith 10132; holo: BRI/.
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