Girl, 13, facing skin graft after burning flesh on ‘UK’s most dangerous plant’

A momentary brush with “Britain’s most dangerous plant” has left a teenage girl on crutches and facing a skin graft.

Autumn Firth, 13, suffered “extremely painful” burns after stepping on the dreaded giant hogweed in Denbigh, Wales.

Dad Jonathan Firth, 35, said his daughter didn’t feel any discomfort initially so kept playing – before waking up in agony the next day.

He rushed to her A&E, where doctors said she had suffered “deep and quite severe burns”.

Autumn has been on crutches and painkillers since and may even need a skin graft on her heel if it does not fully heal.

Jonathan said: “She was on the riverbank in Denbigh and she was barefoot. She stepped on a piece of the plant near the river.

Jonathan said: “She was on the riverbank in Denbigh and she was barefoot. She stepped on a piece of the plant near the river.

It was then that Jonathan decided to take his daughter to hospital.

“I immediately took her to Glan Clwyd A&E when she was dressed.,” he continued.

“The doctors said they were deep and quite severe burns.

“She’s been on painkillers since and also using crutches.

“She has to return to the hospital for a check up and clean dressing every other day.

“She’s had special gel on her heel because it was so deep, to try to build the flesh back up.

“They have mentioned the possibility of her needing a skin graft on her heel but are seeing how it goes for the next few visits.

“They say it’ll take a long time to fully heal.”

The sap of the giant hogweed stops the skin protecting itself against sunlight, leading to nasty burns when exposed to the sun’s rays.

The plant is especially common along rivers, which can transport its seeds.

Mike Duddy, of the Mersey Basin Rivers Trust, said it was “without a shadow of a doubt, the most dangerous plant in Britain” in 2015.

Jonathan, who works with animals for a living, warned other parents to watch out.

He said: “Autumn has really struggled, she’s usually very athletic and active, so it’s been difficult for her.

“She’s been really brave but obviously it’s pretty much preventing her normal daily life and this is two weeks later.

“Her friends at Denbigh High have been really supportive of her.

“Please just check before letting your kids play outside, it’s a huge plant so if it’s taught about then it’s more easily avoided.

“I’ve read it grows near streams and rivers as that’s how the seeds spread, so just be vigilant

“It only takes moments to read about it enough to recognise it.”

The giant hogweed is native to the Caucasus, but was introduced to Britain as an ornamental plant in 1817.

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.