A bloke has been left scarred for life after an encounter with Britain's “most dangerous plant”.
Just brushing past the dreaded giant hogweed while retrieving a football, left Daniel, 21, with golf ball-sized blisters on his ankles.
Daniel's eight-year-old brother was also a victim of the bush in Boston Manor Park, Brentford, with the pair barely able to walk afterwards.
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Thinking he’d been stung by a nettle, Daniel rubbed his ankle with a dock leaf, and continued to enjoy the summer sunshine.
Daniel said he carried on work like normal over the next couple of days, believing it was a stinging nettle rash.
But two days later he came up with massive blisters which were so painful he couldn't walk at one point.
“I got out of bed in the morning for work and I collapsed under my own weight,” he said.
The giant hogweed’s sap stops the skin protecting itself against the sun’s rays, leading to gruesome burns when exposed to natural light.
Part of what makes the plant so dangerous is that it usually causes no immediate pain, so its victims can continue to burn in the sunshine heedless of any problem.
And it only takes a moment of exposure for the sap to do its work.
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Daniel said his blisters grew as big as “golf balls” and caused “unbearable” pain.
He ended up being sent home from work early, and needed two further days off to recuperate.
“For two days after I got stung by the plant, I was working with my ankles out in the sun because it was really hot, and that’s why they’ve blistered up so bad,” he said.
It was less severe for Stanley, but “still not pretty” said mum, Jenny, who added he was left with three small blisters and hoped he wouldn't be left scarred by the encounter.
Daniel, however, said: “It’s gonna be on me for the rest of my life."
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“To be honest, I don’t even know when I can uncover my ankle – I’m scared to have it out in the sun, because I don’t want that to happen again.
“I can’t let sun through otherwise I end up with third-degree burns, and that’s what it basically was – that’s what’s happened to me.”
Now the family are calling for parks to put up warning signs about the dangers of giant hogweed.
The giant hogweed is native to the Caucasus, but was introduced to Britain as an ornamental plant in 1817, and its spread has now got out of control.
Mike Duddy, of the Mersey Basin Rivers Trust, said in 2015 that the giant hogweed was “without a shadow of a doubt, the most dangerous plant in Britain”.
If exposed to the plant, you should thoroughly wash the area that made contact and keep it out of sunlight for a few days, the Woodland Trust advises.
The London Borough of Hounslow, which manages the park, said the plants were under active treatment for removal.
Council leader Shantanu Rajawat said: “In response to this incident our parks teams have placed an additional cordon and signage in the area to warn park users of the risks of coming into contact with giant hogweed."
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