Toxic plant that burns skin, causes blindness spreading in U.S.



Metzgar recently helped identify a patch of giant hogweed in Berryville, Va. He said the plant is easily mistaken for cow parsnips, but gardeners who aren't sure what they're looking at should back away and contact their local Virginia Tech agricultural extension agent or the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.

The plant is a member of the carrot family and can grow to more than 14 feet tall, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. "The flower heads can be nearly three feet across", said Jordan Metzgar, curator of the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech.

Like we mentioned, sap from the hogweed contains toxic chemicals.

Property owner Robert Emma says officials have told him they will come the his property Thursday to remove the plants, then embark on a three to five year monitoring program to be sure any latent seeds do not germinate in the future. The stalks feature thorns and the plant produces large white flower blooms - it's an intimidating plant. Later that day, the organization updated its page to clarify that as many as 30 plants had been found at a private home in Clarke County.

Giant hogweed's greatest danger is the effect its sap has on humans. Also, be aware that a toxic reaction can start as soon as 15 minutes after having contact with the plant.

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Giant hogweed grows best in the borders between forests and open areas, particularly along roads and streams. Warnings have been issued in previous years after discoveries in Michigan, New York and elsewhere in the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Northwest.

Giant hogweed is native to Central and Southeast Asia. The plants spread when birds or waterways carry the seeds to new locations.

According to state's Department of Environmental Conservation, the giant hogweed is unsafe, an invasive weed that has been recently spotted spreading across ny. 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.

The plant was first introduced to the United States in the early 20th century via Europe as an ornamental garden plant. If necessary, the DNR can even obtain a court order to eradicate it.

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