This flowering weed may look pretty, but the Giant Hogweed is not a plant you hope to find growing in your backyard. In fact, the weed is federally-listed as a noxious weed, according to News 12. Keep reading to understand the reasons why you should stay away.
The plant, indigenous to the Caucasus Mountain Region near the black sea, was first introduced as a flowering plant in the United States in the 19h century, according to the DEC. The plant likes plenty of sunlight and water and is particularly prevalent in New York and the New England area.
Despite the pretty flowering blossoms, the Giant Hogweed is not a friend to human or garden. Here are a few reasons why health officials are encouraging people to stay away:
The plant is invasive: This plant will spread where it grows. It can completely take over gardens, yards, and fields if it's allowed to thrive.The plant can grow up to 14-feet (or more) and around 5-feet wide.
The sap is toxic: The sap in this plant (combined with water and sunlight) causes blistering, rashing, scarring and blindness.
The injuries may be long lasting: Exposure to the toxic sap can last for weeks or months. Some people who have experienced the side effects have also experienced light sensitivity in the affected area for years afterward, according to Snopes. If the sap makes it into the eye (usually via contact with hands first) it can cause temporary or permanent blindness.
Contact is tough: It may not be easy to tell if you've come into contact with the sap as it can get on the skin just by brushing against the leaves or by breaking the stems and leaves.
If you come into contact with the giant hogweed, scrub the area with soap and water immediately. Use as much friction as possible to remove the sap from the skin. You should also keep the affected skin out of the sun for about 48 hours. If you begin to see skin irritation or other symptoms, visit a doctor who may prescribe medication to reduce the severity of the reaction.
With the weather warming up lots of people will be hitting the woods and creeks to enjoy the sun. Make sure to share this with your friends on Facebook so they can stay safe this year!