Beware: This kind of weed can cause burns and blindness

Pablo Tucker
June 22, 2018

Recent sightings in OH include a giant hogweed plant in Pepper Pike, according to the Cleveland Metroparks. "Symptoms include painful blisters, which become darkly pigmented and can cause scars".

Giant hogweed's greatest danger is the effect its sap has on humans.

The latest confirmed sighting of giant hogweed in Clarke County, Virginia. Its large size can block sunlight, killing off smaller native plants that grow at ground level, according to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

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 unsafe cow parsnip, was identified at a private home in Clarke County.

The Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech said it found the plant in Clarke County, Virginia.

If you suspect you've found a giant hogweed, you're asked to take photos of a leaf, stem and flower and contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office, or fill out an online report. If the sap gets into the eyes, it can cause permanent blindness. Call your health care provider in case of a severe reaction.

If contact is made with the plant, immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and keep the area away from sunlight for 48 hours, the agency recommends.

These pesky plants spread when birds and waterways carry seeds to new locations.

The site also notes that Hogweed seeds can stay viable in the soil for up to 15 years-so once this stuff moves in, residents have to stay watchful even if it looks like they have successfully eradicated it. The problem comes if you disturb it by, say, putting a weed wacker to it.

Giant hogweed grows best in the borders between forests and open areas, particularly along roads and streams. Seek advice from professional plant control specialists about management options. Giant hogweeds have also been known to plague Washington and Oregon. And if the sap gets in your eyes, rinse them out as soon as you can, put on sunglasses and call your doctor.

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