Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beware of Giant Hogweed

Giant hogweed is a dangerous plant that is rapidly spreading in areas of the United States. It is very harmful to humans and pets. Do Not Touch This Plant!

The sap on this plant, when combined with moisture and sunlight can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness. Skin reactions are typically seen within 48 hours after contacting. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has photos of skin reactions on their site. To view the photos, click here.

What does giant hogweed look like?

The giant hogweed plant is typically between 7 to 14 feet tall. It has huge leaves, incised and deeply lobed. Stems are green with extensive purple splotches and prominent coarse white hairs. It has white flowers with 50-150 flower rays clustered into an umbrella shaped flower cluster up to 2.5 feet across.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has a helpful link to help people identify hogweed. It contains several photos of hogweed and provides a guide to help you identify it.(Many plants have similar characteristics to giant hogweed. ) To view the link, click here.

What to do if you come in contact with it?

  • Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Keep exposed area away from sunlight
  • Seek medical advice

What to do if you see a giant hogweed?

  • Do not touch it
  • Keep children and pets away from it (even just brushing against the plant can cause a reaction)
  • Contact your state's department of agriculture or local health department for advice on how to remove it.

What states have giant hogweed?

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, hogweed has been reported in parts of Michigan, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, and Vermont.

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