Risky plant that can cause blindness, severe burns spotted in Virginia

An Invasive Plant That Causes Third-Degree Burns And Even Blindness Has Been Found In Virginia

According to the DEC, the toxic plant grows in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Giant hogweed is listed in Virginia by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) as a "noxious weed, ' and by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) as "an early detection invasive plant", which means it is not yet entrenched in Virginia, Heffernan said".

Besides being a threat to humans, giant hogweed can also impact the environment. Contact with the eyes can cause temporary or permanent blindness.

While giant hogweed was often originally planted for ornamental reasons, it can spread if soil containing plant or seeds gets moved or if seeds are carried by wind or a person or animal to a new location.

"A similar-looking invasive plant that's been found in N.C. and Kentucky (which could eventually arrive in Tennessee), Wild Parsnip (or 'Poison Parsnip"), can also cause similar symptoms from severe itching to skin burns and blistering.

But unless you're familiar with its nasty secret, you might think the giant hogweed looks cool - these large plants can grow more than 4 metres (14 feet) tall, spreading their huge leaves and producing massive umbrella-shaped clusters of white flowers.

Meanwhile, researchers at the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech last week said that the weed, which originated in Asia, had been seen in Clarke County, in the far north of the state, reported another Richmond TV station, WTVR.

An invasive Giant Hogweed plant is pictured next to a family home in Berryville, Va., in June 2018. At least 30 plants were found at a site in Clarke County.

The risky plant also grows in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The toxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after coming into contact with the toxic photochemicals, so you must get out of the sun.

Metzgar said that his department has been talking to the press to spread the news of the danger that can be caused by giant hogweed. Apply sunscreen to the affected areas. Seeds can grow for 10 years once they're dropped off. Seek advice from professional plant control specialists about management options. "If you get sap on your clothes, carefully remove the clothing to avoid skin and eye contact and wash separately from other clothing with warm water and detergent".

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