In Virginia, giant hogweed is classified as a Tier 1 noxious weed, requiring that "no person shall move, transport, deliver, ship, or offer for shipment into or within the Commonwealth any noxious weed" without a permit. The invasive plant, which was first spotted in the U.S.in 1917, produces toxic sap that can cause severe irritation when skin is exposed to sunlight.
Alex's mother, a nurse at VCU Medical Center, returned home and determined her son's injuries were 2nd to 3rd degree burns that needed immediate medical attention.
"It's a traumatic experience, but Alex is a tough kid", his father said.
Alex was given a full-ride scholarship to Virginia Tech with plans to enroll in the Corps of Cadets later this year.
Giant Hogweed has also been found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Washington, New York, Maryland, Oregon, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
The hogweed plant can grow up to 14 feet or more, has hollow, ridged stems that grow 2-4 inches in diameter and have dark reddish-purple blotches.
The Giant Hogweed plant cannot only pose a threat to your skin, but it can also impact the environment. The umbrella-shaped white floral blooms grow up to two and a half feet wide.
The Childress' hoped others can learn from their son's injuries to be on the lookout for this invasive plant. Eradication should be done by physical removal or using herbicides such as glyphosate or triclopyr.