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By June 29, 2018 0 Comments Read More →

Invasive Giant Hogweed plant that causes 3rd-degree burns, permanent blindness continues spread

Giant hogweed can grow to 14 feet or more.

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a Federally listed noxious weed. Its sap, in combination with moisture and sunlight, can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness. Contact between the skin and the sap of this plant occurs either through brushing against the bristles on the stem or breaking the stem or leaves.

Unfortunately it is very active in our region as can be seen in the map on the right. Giant hogweed is a biennial or perennial herb in the carrot family (Apiaceae) which can grow to 14 feet or more. Its hollow, ridged stems grow 2-4 inches in diameter and have dark reddish-purple blotches. Its large compound leaves can grow up to 5 feet wide. Its white flower heads can grow up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter. Please refer to the Giant Hogweed Identification page for further help.

It is continuing to spread in spite of control efforts and was recently reported in Virginia for the first time by the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech.

This plant poses a serious health threat and you should take immediate action if you come into contact with it:

  • Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water
  • Keep the area away from sunlight for 48 hours
  • See your physician if you think you have been burned by giant hogweed

If you think you have giant hogweed on your property, do NOT touch it. Instead,  Email DEC or call the Giant Hogweed Hotline: 1-845-256-3111. Provide photos, detailed directions to the plant infestation and estimate the number of plants.

Patty Wakefield-Brown and Dylan Hurd lead the control efforts in our region.


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