Most people with large backyards don’t know the name of every plant growing there. Unless a person studies plants religiously, you may not know if what is growing is a shrub or a weed. A Giant Weed Has Infested Back Yards Across America – And It’s Incredibly Dangerous. It is so dangerous that you should know about it so that you can stay away if you see it. It is called hogweed, and it has been around for centuries.
Hogweed can grow to up to 14-feet tall. A single leave can span up to 5-feet. It sprouts a number of white crowns and looks harmless, but it is actually noxious. It is believed that the hogweed plant came over on the Mayflower at the same time that they dandelion did. It is believed to have started growing in Russia, Armenia, and Georgia, and was considered an ornamental plant back then. It was spotted in the United Kingdom in 1817, and by 1917, it was spreading all over the world. That year, someone planted the seeds in Rochester, New York, which started its growth around the country.
As hogweed was popping up around Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, Maine, and Ohio, people back in Europe were starting to realize that these plants are very dangerous. Despite the dangers, people continued to grow hogweed in their gardens and on their farms. As word spread about the dangers of hogweed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture placed it on the noxious weeds list. Today, you need a permit to move it to another state legally, but you may not want to when you hear about how dangerous this plant really is.
Alex Childress was a teenager when he got a job working for a landscaper. He was planning to start college later in the year, so he decided to earn some extra cash while he could. While working one day, he cut down some hogweed plants that were standing very tall. When he cut them down, they landed on his head. When he had them all cut, he carried them in his arms to dispose of them. He finished the day at work and headed home.
Noticing a Problem
When Alex got home, he looked in the mirror and noticed that his skin was red. At first, he thought he had a sunburn after being outdoors all day. When he got in the shower, he was rubbing his face, and pieces of skin were falling off. Soon, big chunks of his skin were coming off, and he started to panic. He was in pain, so he got out of the shower and went to speak to his mother, who was a nurse at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Pulling Up a Picture
When Alex’s mother looked at the burns on her son’s body, it made her think. She pulled up a picture of hogweed and asked her son if he had come into contact with it. Alex recognized the plant and told his mother that he cut a bunch down that afternoon. She realized that she had to get him to the hospital immediately.
Examination and Treatment
When Alex got to the hospital, the doctors examined him and took him to the university’s burn unit. For Alex, the treatment was excruciating. He said that it felt like he had windburn. The doctors had him stand in the shower for an hour and a half, which scrubbing his body with soap to bring down his pH level. Alex says that the worst part of the treatment was having the water running over his open wounds. During the treatments, the dead skin was scraped away. Alex was in the hospital for two days, and the hard work continued when he was released.
Each day, he had to change his bandages, which was very painful. When he would remove a bandage, it would be covered with drainage. While the skin on his arm was trying to heal, it would bleed. He had burns on half of his face and from his wrist to the top of his bicep on his right arm. He couldn’t believe that he was burned so severely from a simple plant.
The doctors told Alex that it was the sap that caused the burns, and the exposure to sunlight made it worse. He was told that had the sap gotten in his eyes, he could have gone blind. As much pain as he was in, he was thankful that nothing went in his eyes. The doctors told him that for his skin to heal thoroughly that he would need to stay out of the sun for two to six months. They also told him that his face would still be sensitive for a year or two, so outdoor activities and trips to the beach were not an option for a long time.
If you don’t want to be burned the way Alex was, you should steer clear of Hogwood. If you are exposed to the sap, you should wash it off immediately and avoid sunlight. You should also keep the exposed area covered. Since it is the sun that activated the sap, keeping it prevented is the best way to avoid a severe burn.