Don't touch: Giant plant causes blindness, third-degree burns

Don't touch: Giant plant causes blindness, third-degree burns

Don't touch: Giant plant causes blindness, third-degree burns

Mark Sutphin, an agricultural extension agent with Virginia Tech, said he wrangled a piece of Emma's giant hogweed while wearing a Tyvek suit and goggles, then brought it back to the lab for identification. If the Virginia Cooperative Extension confirms it is hogweed, you are urged to report it to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

These plants can grow up to 14 feet tall, with thick leaves stretching 2 to 5 feet across. "The flower heads can be nearly three feet across", said Jordan Metzgar, curator of the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech.

The sap of this plant contains toxic chemicals known as photosensitising furanocoumarins.

These pesky plants spread when birds and waterways carry seeds to new locations. Furthermore, there are no documented incidents of the hogweed causing permanent blindness, though its capacity to do so is generally undisputed. The stalks feature thorns and the plant produces large white flower blooms - it's an intimidating plant.

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

Giant Hogweed plant found in Virgina.

Giant Hogweed is commonly found in vacant lots, on roadsides and riverbanks this time of year.

Giant hogweed has previously been found in Michigan, Illinois, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Washington. A toxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact.

Giant hogweed grows best in the borders between forests and open areas, particularly along roads and streams.

Compressed soaked in an aluminum acetate mixture that is available at pharmacy provide relief form skin irritation.

Giant hogweed is native to Central and Southeast Asia. Seeds can grow for 10 years once they're dropped off.

The plant was first introduced to the United States in the early 20th century via Europe as an ornamental garden plant.

If you come into contact with a giant hogweed, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation recommends washing the affected area with soap and water and staying out of the sun for 48 hours. If necessary, the DNR can even obtain a court order to eradicate it.

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