The Giant Hogweed is a dangerous and invasive plant that has the power to cause third-degree burns and permanent blindness.
On June 12, researchers at the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech spotted a Giant Hogweed in Clarke County, Virginia. Additional plants were found in Staunton near Charlottesville and Middlesex County, east of Richmond.
"Giant hogweed makes poison ivy look like a walk in the park," read the alert posted by the Isle of Wight County Facebook page. "Contact with this plant, combined with exposure to the sun, can produce third-degree burns and permanent blindness."
Although there have only been a few sightings in Virginia of the Giant Hogweed so far, the toxic plant had been known to grow in Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
“Today I helped ID Virginia’s first Giant Hogweed population! Its sap causes severe burns,” read a post on the VT Massey Herbarium Facebook page. “One plant was found in Clarke County. Report sightings to your extension agent.”
The plant’s sap is so powerful it can cause potential blindness if it gets in contact with your eyes, according to the NYDEC.
Ironically enough, the plant is a part of the carrot family and can grow up to 15 feet in height, according to VAInvasiveSpecies.org. Its stems are hollow and usually grow up to two to four inches in diameter, with dark purple and red raised sports and bristle-like hairs.
The DEC is urging residents who spot a Giant Hogweed to report the sighting immediately. And whatever you do, do not try to remove the plant with a weed-whacker. This will only cause the plant’s sap to spread.
Have you seen this dangerous plant? Let us know in the comment section below!