After changing a dozen things to try identify the cause of the problem, I added some debugging to the plug-in to locate the location of problem - I figured the attribute 25 was a red herring.
Almost ironically - when based on a static LOV and executed in the apex.oracle.com environment where there are thousands of applications - this query didn't perform well:
FROM apex_application_list_entries p WHERE list_id = list_entries_cur.p_list_id CONNECT BY NOCYCLE PRIOR list_entry_id = list_entry_parent_id START WITH list_entry_parent_id IS NULL
So by replacing it with an basic in-line fixed it.
FROM (SELECT * FROM apex_application_list_entries p WHERE list_id = list_entries_cur.p_list_id) p CONNECT BY NOCYCLE PRIOR list_entry_id = list_entry_parent_id START WITH list_entry_parent_id IS NULL
I think I've only used dynamic queries with this plug-in on apex.oracle.com, so I've never encountered it.
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The 1.2 release of the plug-in (25-APR-2013) fixed this performance issue using a CTE (rather than an inline view, although I like the inline view).
Thanks Dan - I need to start quoting & checking plug-in versions, this is the second time it's caught me.