Giant Hogweed, plant on Alabama noxious list, severely burns Virginia teen

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A noxious plant that can cause blindness and skin irritation sent a 17-year-old Virginia man to the hospital with third degree burns.

Alex Childress encountered the Giant Hogweed while working at a landscaping job. He told NBC12 he originally thought he had a bad sunburn as his skin started peeling after he arrived home that day. He was later taken to the hospital where he was treated for burns on his face and arms and officials determined he’d come into contact with Hogweed plant.

Giant Hogweed is classified as a noxious weed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has previously been reported in Michigan, New York and Ohio and 30 of the large flowering plans were recently found in Virginia.

The plants can grow up to 14 feet tall with blossoms that look like Queen Anne’s Lace but with chunkier leaves. It is included on Alabama’s list of noxious weeds but has not been reported in the state.

The plant, scientific name Heracleum mantegazzianum, produces a clear sap which can burn the skin and cause blisters when exposed to sunlight. Sap in a person’s eye can damage their vision as well, possibly resulting in blindness. The plant is native to Asia and was introduced into the U.S. in the early 1900s for use in ornamental gardens, according to the USDA.

Any who discovers the weed is advised not to touch it. If you do come in contact with the weed, you’re advised to wash your hands immediately with cold water and get out of the sun before contacting a healthcare professional.


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