A plant known as the giant Hogweed, or Heracleum mantegazzianum, has been spreading and growing, making its way across a number of states in America.
It might look quite beautiful, but the fact is that contact with this plant can have devastating effects.
There are a number of dangerous plants out there that can irritate the skin when touched or poison you if consumed, but the giant Hogweed – which is also known by many other names, such as giant cow parsnip, giant cow parsley, cartwheel-flower, or hogsbane – is especially dangerous.
A mere touch of this plant’s sap can result in lifelong scarring or burns on the skin or even permanent blindness if it gets into the eye.
As of now, this plant has made its way into the states of Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, with Virginia being the newest of affected states.
The rampant spread of giant Hogweed has led health officials, experts and authorities to issue warnings to citizens about keeping safe around this plant.
Lovely to look at on the outside, the giant Hogweed grows to be between 8 and 14 feet and has lobed, dark green leaves that can hit a whopping 5 feet in diameter.
It has a thick and hollow stem that is peppered with white hairs and little purple dots and specks, and over the very top of the plant is a large umbrella formation full of incredibly beautiful white flowers.
Needless to say, it’s quite a sight to behold – but don’t let it fool you!
The giant Hogweed makes use of a particular kind of sap that contains a chemical known as Photosynthesizing furanocoumarins.
The purpose of this sap is to make the plant extremely sensitive to light to promote better growth and health.
Unfortunately, that means that if it gets onto your skin, it will make the affected area highly prone to sunburns.
In fact, contact with this sap can cause third-degree burns and a variety of skin problems that cannot be cured and will be with you for the rest of your life.
On top of that, if the sap touches your eye by accident, the hypersensitivity to light can cause permanent blindness.
If you do touch sap by accident, you should immediately get out of the sun and go somewhere shady. Rinse your skin thoroughly with soap and cold water.
Even if you don’t see adverse effects, it’s a good idea to continuously apply sunscreen to the area or wear a bandage or clothing that will fully cover it from the sun, even for months after the incident.
If your clothes get sap on them, remove immediately, taking care not to get any on your skin, and wash separately from other clothing.
What happens if you spot a giant Hogweed growing in your yard? Do not under any circumstances try to get rid of it yourself!
Don’t weed whack, mow, or cut it as that will just promote further growth and spreading and make the chances of the sap seeping through the air much higher.
Instead, contact a professional plant control specialist as soon as possible.