Child burned by giant hogweed

Chantelle MacIsaac
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Lance Downey, 4, from the Codroy Valley had a run-in with giant hogweed on July 10. The weed caused a burn and blister and the child was unable to walk around for more then a week.  — Submitted photo

Lance Downey is an example of your average four-year-old child. Running carefree, always smiling and happy-go-lucky.

Unfortunately he was down for more than a week after an encounter with giant hogweed on July 10.

Lance was in O’Regans spending the day with his aunt, who was home visiting from Fort McMurray.

His mother, Dolly Donaldson, noticed a little blister on his toe when he came home, but she didn’t think it was anything more then the average blister.

“Then he was awake all night crying about a burning on his toe,” said Donaldson. “The next morning he got up and it was huge.”

Donaldson spoke with a few parents that had run-ins with giant hogweed last year and from the similarities they described, it was determined Lance had gotten into the plant.

“Then in a couple days it spread to the other foot,” said Donaldson. “I was told to just keep it covered with bandages and it would dry up.”

Donaldson said that for now she has been giving him Tylenol and keeping him comfortable.

It is only now, after a full week that Lance is walking around on his heels.


Giant hogweed

Environment Canada has a website called and it contains information on invasive species in the province.

The giant hogweed is a perennial that belongs to the carrot family. It prefers moist sites, such as along streams.

The plants produce hollow stems which resemble bamboo, and can reach two to three metres in height.

The leaves are very large and the flowers are white and flat, often mistaken for another species of flowers found here called the Queen Ann’s lace.

The sap of the hogweed is highly toxic to humans.

Sap, exposed to sunlight on exposed skin, can lead to severe burning and blistering.

The plant has a photochemical reaction and without the sun, the sap will not burn the skin.

To control the plant, cut the stem about three to five centimeters below ground level. Wear gloves, goggles, and cover all exposed skin.

Using high potency weed control chemicals such as roundup is also recommended.


The Gulf News

Organizations: Gulf News

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • Sarah
    August 25, 2013 - 07:04

    I have been reading online about this and hoping to get information out there... I was working in western Russia this summer, and one of our volunteers had an encounter with hogweed. In Russia, all the locals know that you need to make a tincture from чистотело - or celandine. Steep the leaves to make a tincture and wash with that tincture the affected area. It was the only thing that helped. Hope this helps someone.

  • Todd Boland
    July 30, 2013 - 14:12

    FYI, to my knowledge, there is no hogweed in western Newfoundland. It has only been confirmed on the Avalon. Chances are, that child was burned by native cow parsnip which is common and found across the Island. It is very similar to hogweed and has the same toxic effects. I know several people who have been burned by cow parsnip and the results appear the same as the child in question.