Toxic Giant hogweed plant,causing blindness and third-degree burns discovered in Virginia

Toxic Giant hogweed plant,causing blindness and third-degree burns discovered in Virginia

Environmental officials in Virginia said while there has just been one confirmed case in Clarke County, they are warning residents in other parts of the state to stay alert for potential sightings. If the Virginia Cooperative Extension confirms it is hogweed, you are urged to report it to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confirmed on Tuesday that giant hogweed, a toxic weed that can grow up to 15 feet tall and resembles the less risky cow parsnip, was identified at a private home in Clarke County.

The Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech said in a Facebook post 30 giant hogweed plants had been discovered in Clarke County, located between Winchester and Leesburg.

"The sap contains chemicals that are activated by sunlight", Metzgar said. 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. Contact with the eyes can cause temporary or permanent blindness. Giant hogweed is so named for its huge flower and leaf clusters.

Giant Hogweed can move into an area and take over.


The plant has been spotted in NY but also, Virginia, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and parts of the Pacific Northwest. Also, be aware that a toxic reaction can start as soon as 15 minutes after having contact with the plant.

Giant hogweed is native to Central and Southeast Asia. The hazardous plant lives 3 to 5 years and is especially hardy, meaning it can grow just about anywhere and is especially hard to remove. "See your physician if you think you have been burned by giant hogweed". The plant is a native of the Caucasus region of Eurasia, between the Black and Caspian seas.

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

Recent sightings in OH include a giant hogweed plant in Pepper Pike, according to the Cleveland Metroparks. If necessary, the DNR can even obtain a court order to eradicate it.

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