Alex Childress of Spotsylvania County, Virginia, didn't notice anything unusual until he went to take a shower that evening. One 17-year-old boy recently went to the hospital with second- and third-degree burns after he accidentally chopped down a giant hogweed plant as part of his summer landscaping job. It may sound like a monster, but this scary beast is actually giant hogweed, a towering, invasive plant whose sap can cause painful burns, scarring, and possibly even blindness. Originally from the the Caucasus mountain region of Eurasia, researchers just confirmed the presence of this federally listed "noxious weed" in Virginia for the first time. To minimize the damage, immediately wash the affected area with soap and water and contact your physician ASAP if you experience a reaction. Translation: It didn't take long for this species to spread out of control — and start injuring unsuspecting gardeners. "It's really important to realize that it's a plant. Below are some key characteristics for identifying this invasive species: One of the most dangerous aspects of this species is the reaction that occurs when its sap comes into contact with human skin. The only way you can burned by giant hogweed is to touch it. In humans, contact with giant hogweed sap, together with exposure to light (natural or artificial ultraviolet rays), causes skin lesions similar to burns. The danger of giant hogweed stems from its sap, which is present on all parts of the plant. The danger with Giant Hogweed is not poisoning, but in the way that its sap reacts with your skin. The first step is report it to your local authority, like the Department of Environmental Conservation or an extension service. Its stem is green with purple splotches, and coarse white hairs. Giant hogweed is a large, flowering plant from Eurasia with sap that can cause painful burns and scarring. A GP may prescribe topical or oral steroids to reduce the severity and help it heal faster. Keep an eye out in open sites with lots of light and moist soil, as well as partially shaded areas along streams, rivers, and roads as well as in fields, forests, and yards. Be on the lookout for purple blotches and white hairs at its base. Giant hogweed is an invasive plant originally from Asia. Not only can this plant be detrimental to your yard, but can also pose serious health risks for humans. "People are often very frightened when they hear about giant hogweed," Kraus says. Giant Hogweed is a large flowering plant from Eurasia with sap that can cause painful burns and scarring. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. How to identify giant hogweed Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a perennial plant that can grow between 15–20'. To reduce long-term damage to your skin, be sure to wash the affected area with soap and water immediately upon coming into contact with the plant. Clearly, though, it can be encountered when it is still growing up and much smaller. "It basically fuses your DNA in that area," Kraus explains. The scars that remain once the blisters have healed may last for multiple years, and usually retain a brown/purple color. This content is imported from {embed-name}. MissionGreen Services933 Meadow StreetChicopee, MA 01013, Web: We may earn commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we back. Even when the painful blisters subside, permanent scarring can remain. If you accidentally brush up against any part of the flowers or leaves, your skin may react as quickly as within 10-15 minutes. Excavation is the quickest method to eradicate Giant hogweed, although it is a more expensive option. Dark, painful blisters will form within two days, and the purplish or brown scars and sensitivity to sunlight can last for years. This Plant Can Cause Blindness and 3rd-Degree Burns, Yes, Your Plants Are Talking to Each Other, Follow This 6-Step Guide to Grow the Best Tomatoes, 6 Things You Need to Know Before Growing Broccoli, Mom Says Her Toddler Was Burned By This Sunscreen. www.missiongreenservices.com, 933 Meadow Street Chicopee, MA 01013 Giant Hogweed, also known by its Latin name Heracleum Mantegazzianum, originated in Southern Russia and Georgia. How to identify giant hogweed: Giant hogweed certainly lives up to its name, growing 3 to 4 metres … If you inadvertently brush up against any part of giant hogweed, you might notice the skin reaction within 15 minutes. Experts may recommend manual methods of control — like cutting the roots — or applying an herbicide. Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a perennial and currently distributed in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, and central to southern Vancouver Island. "When it's blistered, just wearing a long-sleeve shirt isn't enough," Kraus says. Confusingly, some people refer to giant hogweed as giant cow parsley! Giant hogweed doesn't grow to 14 feet overnight; the seedlings and saplings start out much smaller. Giant hogweeds are recognizable by their umbrella-shaped clusters of 50 to 150 white flowers. Identifying a full-height giant hogweed specimen isn’t hard, as it’s the largest herbaceous plant that grows in Britain, growing to 5 metres tall when healthy and undisturbed. Adult Giant Hogweed plants are 7 to 14 feet tall with umbrella shaped clusters of white flowers up to 2.5 feet wide. That is its habitat; you will rarely find it far from a fresh water source. Good Housekeeping participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. Giant hogweed is one of several UK plants to steer clear of. The plant is part of the Apiaceae … The leaves have been known to grow 1 metre in width. But gardening experts … The plant is part of the Apiaceae … Giant Hogweed and Common Hogweed are harmful to humans and their pets. Although stunning when fully grown, giant hogweed is an invasive plant and can potentially be harmful. However, the average giant hogweed produces a whopping 20,000 seeds that can fall 30 feet from the plant and travel even farther through wind or water. How to correctly identify the plant. It's in the same family and produces the same toxic sap, but doesn't grow as tall. The reaction — called phytophotodermatitis — is similar to how some antibiotics you take make your skin more sensitive to UV light. "The more sap you touch, the greater damage it causes," Naja Kraus, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation's Giant Hogweed Program Coordinator, tells GoodHousekeeping.com. You'll want to protect the burned area from sunlight for the next few years as well to reduce scarring. Naturalists intentionally brought the species here in the early 1900s, as its size and enormous flowers made it desirable for ornamental planting. True to its name, giant hogweed is a giant in every respect. The easiest way to identify giant hogweed is to look for purple blotches and white hairs on the stem. The easiest way to identify giant hogweed is to look for purple blotches and white hairs on the stem. Similar to cow parsley, giant hogweed is a long-stemmed green plant with white flowers, however, it does have some features that differentiate it from the harmless fern-like foliage… The mature plant is easy to identify. When they’re flowering, hogweeds can stand between eight and 15 feet tall. Giant Hogweed is a notoriously dangerous plant which though uncommon in the UK is something you are likely to see if you spend a lot of time walking beside rivers and streams. 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