Teen recovering after coming in contact with unsafe Hogweed plant

Desiree Burns
July 14, 2018

He says a sample of the plant Childress touched can confirm whether it was giant hogweed.

If you have to get involved yourself, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) advises that you wear gloves, cover your arms and legs, and ideally wear a face mask when working on or near it. "When he got home, he got into the shower and the skin on his face was basically peeling away and peeling off". Giant hogweed exudes a sap that can cause burns, blisters and blindness.

Alex's mother, a nurse at VCU Medical Center, returned home and determined the 17-year-old's injuries were 2nd to 3rd-degree burns that needed immediate medical attention.

"I thought I had a bad sunburn", he said.

If you think you have seen Giant Hogweed, VDACS wants you to take photos of the plant and submit a report here.

Alex Childress was released Thursday from the burn unit at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center after intensive treatment for exposure to the plant, according to the Times-Dispatch. "I'm hoping that scholarship will still be available for me". His father, Justin Childress, says his son appears to have a long recovery ahead of him.

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You can try pulling the plants out by (gloved) hand when the giant hogweed has reached a reasonable height, but before it has produced its flowering spike.

In the United States, it is illegal to import giant hogweed or move it interstate without a permit. It can grow up to 14 feet, deeply shading areas and inhibiting the growth of native species.

Jordan Metzgar, curator at the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech, told the Times-Dispatch that giant hogweed have been spotted around Virginia, adding that the plant was not spreading like in NY and other Northern states.

The plant's hollow stems are generally two to four inches in diameter, with dark purple and red raised spots and bristle-like hairs. There are multiple lookalike plants, the most common being cow parsnip.

You should really call a professional or local authority to deal with the weed. Eradication should be done by physical removal or using herbicides such as glyphosate or triclopyr.

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