Teen recovering from burns after plant encounter

A Virginia teen is recovering from serious burns received after brushing against a plant during a landscaping job and experts hope a plant sample will confirm whether it was a toxic weed first confirmed in the state last month.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports 17-year-old Alex Childress came in contact with a plant as he worked Tuesday, leaving him with burns. It’s thought it was a giant hogweed, whose sap can cause burns, blisters and blindness.

After researchers confirmed the first plant, there were many reported sightings. Jordan Metzgar is a curator with Virginia Tech’s Massey Herbarium. He said Friday that most of the sightings were unfounded. He says a sample of the plant Childress touched can confirm whether it was giant hogweed.

Metzgar says there’s no sign hogweed is spreading, as in colder climates.