The Giant Danger from Giant Hogweed

Do NOT touch this plant! As a federally listed noxious weed, the giant hogweed’s sap, when combined with moisture and sunlight, can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness. Contact with this plant usually occurs either through brushing against the bristles on the stem or breaking the leaves or stem.

Where are they?

Native to the Caucasus Mountain region between the Black and Caspian Seas, it was introduced to Europe and the U.K. in the late 19th century. Unfortunately, it found a home in the United States in the early 20th century as an ornamental garden plant. It has since become established in New England, the Mid-Atlantic region and the Northwest. They typically grow along streams and rivers, in fields, forests, yards and roadsides.

How to identify?

Giant hogweed is a biennial or perennial herb in the carrot family and can grow to 14 feet or more! Its hollow, ridged stems grow 2 to 4 inches thick and have dark reddish-purple blotches. It has large compound leaves that can grow 5 feet wide and its white flower heads can grow up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter. For additional photos and information on how to identify these plants, please click here!

What do I do if I touch one?

If you are unfortunate enough to come into physical contact with the giant hogweed, immediately wash the affected area with soap and water. You must keep the area away from sunlight for 48 hours. This plant poses a serious threat to your health and we recommend that you see your physician if you think you’ve touched a giant hogweed.

 

Be Prepared. Know Before™.

The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team

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