While out on a fishing trip, Lauren Fuller stopped to pick some flowers from a pretty looking bush. They were large and white and seemed so innocent that Lauren didn’t notice anything at first. Her hands began to turn red and felt like they were burning. Her parents too her to the hospital, but the doctors only confirmed that their daughter’s hands were burning red because of a sunburn and sent her home without further concern.
Over the next two days, Lauren’s hands continued to swell and became more and more red as time passed. The pain had become unbearable, and her parents realized that they needed to learn more. They googled her symptoms and learned that the “flowers” she had picked come from a giant hogweed plant.
The stalks on this plant secrete a toxic sap from the spines that causes skin to become extremely sensitive to light. This time, they went to the hospital with answers. They bandaged her hands, but the skin was too badly burned to save. It continued to slough off, and little Lauren will probably need skin grafts in order to fully recover. Lauren wants to raise awareness about this dangerous plant as it is surprisingly common. Growing in southern Canada, the northern United States, and the British Isles, this plant invades gardens and can be spotted easily by its bright white blooms. While it may look similar to other, harmless plants, the stalks of the hogweed plant are a deep purple and is covered in tiny white spines. The best thing to do if you suspect that you or a child has come into contact with this plant is to contact a physician immediately! Lauren wants as many people to know about this dangerous plant as possible!