Mum warns parents as daughter, five, is left covered in blisters after brush with 'Britain's most dangerous plant'

A MUM has issued a warning about a toxic weed growing here in Britain, after her daughter was left covered in blisters.

Rebecca Barnes told ITV News how a brush with the flowering giant hogweed's poisonous sap left her two kids needing hospital treatment.


Her son Reggie, seven, and daughter Roma, five, were rushed to Salisbury District Hospital for urgent treatment after coming into contact with the plant while playing outdoors.

Terrifyingly, if it had gone into their eyes, it could have blinded them for life.

A River Trust expert warned of the hogweed: "It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most dangerous plant in Britain."

A giant hogweed can grow to heights of 23ft tall and kids are attracted to it because of the hollow stems, which make ideal peashooters.


The weed's toxic sap reacts with sunlight to burn the skin, causing permanent blisters and scars.

The first sign Rebecca noticed was a mild redness and rash on Roma's skin, but she deteriorated further after a long day in the sun.

The weed's sap removes the skin's natural protection to UV rays, causing Roma to suffer from sunburn.

Rebecca is telling her story to warn other parents, as she says there isn't enough awareness about the dangers of this plant.


She said: "It's not commonly warned about which I think it needs to be.

"On public footpaths there needs to be pictures of it, because if the sap gets into your eyes it can cause permanent blindness."

Roma, who was the worst affected, will need bandages on her arms and legs for months or even years.

Her mum said: "For at least six months, but up to seven years as sun protection won't be enough.

"I'm just praying that the scarring isn't left because it can obviously leave really bad scars."

Expert Guy Barter, from the Royal Horticultural Society, said giant hogweed is more dangerous this year because the plant is flourishing.

He said: "It likes damp soil, it likes riparian areas next to rivers and of course this winter we had an awful lot of rain – one of the wettest winters on record.

"Rivers were high, that picked up the seeds and fragments of plants and spread them out along water courses."

The weed is common in Gloucestershire and previously left horticulturalist Dean Simmons with life-changing injuries, after a brush with one in Somerset in 2016.

He said at the time: "I feel so stupid – because of my job, I had knowledge of this plant and was still caught out."

We previously revealed the deadly things that could harm your kids on a summer walk, from caterpillars to hogweed.

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