Alex Childress, 17, encountered the giant hogweed while on a landscaping job and is being treated in hospital.
The plant touched him as he pruned a bush, and he initially thought the irritation on his face and arms was sunburn.
His father told local next channel WTVR that when his son showered later “the skin on his face was basically peeling away.”
The plant is phytotoxic to humans, meaning when the skin it touches is exposed to sunlight it can cause severe reactions including blistering and burning.
How to kill giant hogweed
You should really call a professional or local authority to deal with the weed.
Trying to get rid of it yourself only increases the risk of spreading the seeds and creating an infestation in your garden.
If you have to get involved yourself, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) advises that you wear gloves, cover your arms and legs, and ideally wear a face mask when working on or near it.
You can try pulling the plants out by (gloved) hand when the giant hogweed has reached a reasonable height, but before it has produced its flowering spike.
You can also try chemical controls, and someone at your local gardening centre will be able to advise the best one to use.
Whatever you do, be cautious for yourself and others. Cut plant debris, contaminated clothing and tools are potentially hazardous too.
If you accidentally come in contact with giant hogweed, the NY Department of Health recommends that you wash it off with cold water immediately and get out of the sun.
Apply sunscreen to the affected area and seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Giant hogweed is, in fact, a part of the carrot family.
It can grow up to 14 feet tall and is identifiable by its deceptively pretty white flower clusters.
Because of the weed’s high toxicity and invasive nature, several regulations have been written into law to prevent its spread.
In the US, it is illegal to import giant hogweed or move it interstate without a permit.
In the UK, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 makes it an offence to plant or cause giant hogweed to grow in the wild.