Schoolboys blistered and burned after touching ‘most dangerous plant in Britain’

A plant branded the most dangerous in Britain has left two schoolboys with scorching blisters after contact with it burned their flesh.

Brothers Alfie, 12, and Henry, 10, are still scarred after brushing past the giant hogweed near Wordsley, West Midlands.

Mum, Nikki, who gave only her first name, said: “They’d taken their tops off and I think they just ran past the plants as they were playing.

“There were no signs that anything was wrong at the time – no stinging, or any pain or redness of any kind.

“But when Alfie arrived home from school on the Monday, he said ‘I think you need to have a look at my shoulder, there’s something wrong with it.'

“When he took his shirt off, his shoulder and arm were red and covered in blisters. He also had a small blister on his stomach and other arm.

“Over the next few hours more appeared on his arm, leg and stomach and also red marks without blisters appeared over his lower back.

“I checked Henry and he had a small patch on his shoulder blade with blisters, where a few more developed.”

The sap of the giant hogweed stops the skin protecting itself against sunlight, leading to nasty burns when exposed to the sun’s rays.

For Alfie and Henry, it’s left them using steroid cream three times a day, with doctors also prescribing a week-long course of antihistamines. They still bear the scars.

“We’ve no idea how long it will take to clear up,” said Nikki, 43.

“From what I have read it can take a long time for the initial scarring to fade.

“I guess it will depend on how well they can keep it out of the sun as it can reblister when exposed to sunlight.”

The school boys were playing near the River Stour when they encountered the giant hogweed.

Two miles away, on another branch of the river, Jayden Pinches, 11, was scorched by the plant while spending the weekend with his dad.

Mum Eulalia Sintes, 30, said: “When he came back home to me the following morning he showed me his arm and neck, which had blisters on them,”

“It happened nearly three weeks ago and the blisters have only recently gone, and he’s been left with marks which I’m hoping will clear up over time.

“Because it was on the inside of his elbow it hurt every time he bent his arm when the blisters were there.”

Now both parents have warned other parents about the plant, which has taken root across the country.

“I would just advise parents to know what the plant looks like and to be aware of it,” said Miss Sintes.

Nikki added: “Warn your kids to keep an eye out for it and steer clear of it if they see it.

“Many kids used to use cow parsley to make pea shooters and it looks so similar that it is easy to get them mixed up.”

The giant hogweed is native to the Caucasus, but was introduced to Britain as an ornamental plant in 1817, and its spread has now got out of control.

Mike Duddy, of the Mersey Basin Rivers Trust, said in 2015 that it was “without a shadow of a doubt, the most dangerous plant in Britain”.

If exposed to the plant, you should thoroughly wash the area that made contact and keep it out of sunlight for a few days, the Woodland Trust advises.

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