Invasive plant can cause severe burns, blindness


Experts like MASSEY HERBARIUM said GIANT HOGWEED is much larger than chunkier leaves.

The plant causes skin reaction like dark blisters which is really painful within 48 hours of contact. Also, be aware that a toxic reaction can start as soon as 15 minutes after having contact with the plant.

It can be identified by a large compound umbel of white flowers, large, deeply incised leaves and prominent white hairs and purple blotches on its stems, according to OSU Extension.

Giant hogweed's greatest danger is the effect its sap has on humans. In extreme case, it can cause blindness. Then, check with your extension office. This provides some relief for skin irritations.

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Is it anywhere other than Virginia?

The plant has been spotted in NY but also, Virginia, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and parts of the Pacific Northwest. It was first discovered in Wisconsin in 2004. Its real name is heracleum mantegazzianum. Caitlin O'Kane of CBS News reports that birds and waterways can also transport the seeds to new locations. Seeds can grow for 10 years once they're dropped off. Officials stressed that giant hogweed must only be handled while wearing protective clothing such as eye protection, overalls and rubber gloves. It was first brought to the United States as a decorative plant in the early 20th century. It is native to the Caucasus Mountain region between the Black and Caspian Seas and grows along streams and rivers, and in fields, forests, yards and along roadsides.

Around the beginning of June, a Virginia Department of Transportation worker found another bunch of giant hogweed growing in Frederick County after quick-witted employees, recalling a U.S. Department of Agriculture warning about the plant some years ago, spotted it.

Should one touch giant hogweed sap, it's not quite as bad as touching the acidic blood of the titular creatures in the "Alien" franchise. If necessary, the DNR can even obtain a court order to eradicate it.

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