The hairs on a giant Australian stinging tree leaf (Dendrocnide excelsa)
Nature Picture Library / Alamy
Australia may be notorious for its venomous animals, such as snakes and jellyfish, but the country is also home to dangerous plants. Some produce toxins that look very similar at the molecular level to spider and scorpion venom.
Irina Vetter at the University of Queensland in Brisbane and her colleagues examined the toxins produced by two species of Australian stinging trees: the giant Australian stinging tree (Dendrocnide excelsa), which can grow to be up to 35 metres high, and the shrub-sized gympie gympie (Dendrocnide …