Invasive plant can cause severe burns, blindness

Ignacio Smith
June 22, 2018

Be aware of what this invasive plant looks like, so that you can steer clear. It is hardy and hard to remove. Since then, the plant has become established in NY state, which has felled more than 6.3 million hogweed plants, and other locations in the Northeast.

It's highly toxic, invasive, and for the first time ever, it's been spotted in the state of Virginia.

GIANT HOGWEED sounds like a mythical plant that students of Hogwarts may study, but it's real and unsafe. The plant can be confused with cow parsnip, and Queen Anne's Lace which are native to Virginia.

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Though historically confined to a half dozen states in the northeastern and northwestern corners of the USA, the plant has been steadily spreading elsewhere.

Since the discovery., others have reported giant hogweed sightings, but Martin said the Berryville plant is the only confirmed sighting.

The sap of a giant hogweed plant causes a skin reaction called phyto-photodermatitis, according to OSU Extension.

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While the environmental impact is certainly concerning, the giant hogweed is unsafe in other ways. It can also cause a reaction that leads to painful, dark-colored blisters that come with scars. "This seems to be an isolated incident", Michael Flessner, an assistant professor and extension weed science specialist at Virginia Tech, said in a statement.

"It's a risky plant but I'm not overly concerned about it", Michael Flessner, an assistant professor and extension weed science specialist at Virginia Tech, said. In extreme case, it can cause blindness.

The site also notes that Hogweed seeds can stay viable in the soil for up to 15 years-so once this stuff moves in, residents have to stay watchful even if it looks like they have successfully eradicated it. Another lovely detail: Before death, a single hogweed plant can release up to 120,000 seeds capable of traveling long distances through water and wind before finding a new place to call home. If you don't look too closely at it its stem, which is covered in purple splotches and coarse hair-like protrusions, the giant hogweed is nearly pretty. Follow INSIDER on Facebook.

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