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

Christopher Davidson
June 21, 2018

WARNING: The photos posted at bottom of this story depicting burns from giant hogweed are graphic in nature. This particular colony featured 40 plants.

The giant hogweed is an impressive-looking plant.

In Ohio, giant hogweed is typically found in northeast Ohio, especially in counties bordering Pennsylvania. Metzgar says he's pretty confident these plants are isolated - but they still urge people around Virginia to be on the lookout for them.

Giant hogweed, an invasive plant that can produce severe burns, blisters, and blindness has been spotted for the first time in Virginia.

The large plant's sap contains chemicals called furanocoumarins, which make a person's skin more sensitive to sunlight.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is taking this plant invasion very seriously.

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Corey Childs, an extension agent in the northern Shenandoah Valley housed in Warren County, visited the Clarke County site Monday to collect Giant Hogweed samples for the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech.

Giant Hogweed, part of carrot family, can grown up to 14 feet tall with thick leaves stretching two to five feet across and large clusters of white flowers gracing the top of the plant in an umbrella pattern. 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.

"Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and keep the area away from sunlight for 48 hours, the agency recommends."
Environmental officials reported seeing the plant in South Carolina's Watauga County in 2013, but it has not been reported since.

According to state's Department of Environmental Conservation, the giant hogweed is unsafe, an invasive weed that has been recently spotted spreading across ny. Contact with the eyes can cause temporary and sometimes permanent blindness.

One of the primary points they mention is that the plants have to be cut after the seeds appear, but before they mature.

Even so, it might take several years to eradicate a stand of Hogweed by mowing. Seeds can also be inadvertently transported in soil.

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