Weed that can cause blindness found in Virginia

According to the county, some complications if anyone comes into contact with a Giant Hogweed include varying skin reactions as well as phytophotodermatitis, which occurs when the sap makes the skin so sensitive to sunlight that sever burns can occur from normal exposure to the sun.

More alarmingly, if the sap gets into a person's eyes, there is the potential for blindness, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Its sap causes severe burns.

The Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech said it found the plant in Clarke County, Virginia.

Once you have an infestation, it takes a lot of work to control the giant hogweed to prevent its spread, as its seeds - each plant can shed thousands - remain viable in the soil for several years.

An invasive plant that emits a toxic sap that, when exposed to sunlight, can cause third-degree burns and even blindness, has been found in northern Virginia, Fox News is reporting.

In addition to Pennsylvania, giant hogweed can be found in New York, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and ME, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

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Giant hogweed originates from the Caucasus Mountains between the Black and Caspian seas by Russian Federation - but it made its way to the U.S.by the early 20th century. VDOT also reported sightings of the Giant Hogweed in the Staunton area and Middlesex County.

The plant, which is in the carrot family, cannot only pose a threat to your skin, but it can also impact the environment.

But unless you're familiar with its nasty secret, you might think the giant hogweed looks cool - these large plants can grow more than 4 metres (14 feet) tall, spreading their huge leaves and producing massive umbrella-shaped clusters of white flowers.

Since the discovery, others have reported giant hogweed sightings, but Martin said the Berryville plant is the only confirmed sighting. "The phototoxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact, with sensitivity peak between 30 minutes and two hours after contact". If hogweed sap gets into the eyes, rinse them with water immediately, put on sunglasses, and contact your health care provider. "There is a strong possibility that the Giant Hogweed could find its way into the Tidewater/Coastal Virginia area".

Virginia residents are warned not use a weed-whacker to remove the plant.

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