Child burned by giant hogweed

Published on July 23, 2013
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