Invasive plant can cause severe burns, blindness

Rosemary Collier
June 22, 2018

A very risky poisonous plant has been spotted in Virginia and residents are encouraged to report it if they see it-while they can still see.

Giant Hogweed plant found in Virgina.

The plant's sap is particularly noxious. That releases a sap that once on your skin, reacts to sunlight and creates serious and painful burns that can last for weeks. When these chemicals meet human skin, it can cause a reaction that makes skin extremely sensitive to light.

If the sap gets into someone's eyes, it can do irremediable damage.

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The plant has been mistaken for others that look like it such as cow parsnip and Queen Anne's lace.

WARNING: The photos posted at bottom of this story depicting burns from giant hogweed are graphic in nature.

Though common in NY state, which has spent millions fighting the plant, and elsewhere in the Northeast, the giant hogweeds in Berryville and Frederick County are the plant's first known locations in Virginia.

The latest confirmed sighting of giant hogweed came in Clarke County, Virginia.

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The threat of giant hogweed is stubborn, since its seeds can remain dormant in the soil for up to 15 years.

The plant can grow up to 14 feet tall with large bunches of white flowers at the top of the plant. Plant specialists continue to use herbicides to stop the spread. Touching giant hogweed can also lead to a long-term sunlight sensitivity and blindness if sap gets into a person's eye.

Recent sightings in OH include a giant hogweed plant in Pepper Pike, according to the Cleveland Metroparks. Hogweed has been a problem plant in Pennsylvania and NY but had not been seen so far south in the US, until now, as The Post reported this week. And because the plants are so hardy and grow so quickly, they have to be cut down to the ground at least three times in each growing season. If necessary, the DNR can even obtain a court order to eradicate it.

Digging out the roots is the best method, and the only certain and permanent method, but is only practical for small patches. Seeds can grow for 10 years once they're dropped off.

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