Invasive plant can cause severe burns, blindness

Modesto Morganelli
Giugno 20, 2018

Giant Hogweed is much larger growing to up to 16-feet.

"Property owners who think they spot Giant Hogweed should not panic", Jordan Metzgar, curator of the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech, said. Moyer reports for the Washington Post, it has been spotted in Virginia for the first time. He said a previous property owner planted it as an ornamental. Other discoveries have prompted warnings after it was found across the Midwest, as well as in MI and NY. The plant can be confused with cow parsnip, which is native to Virginia.

The dastardly weed has been reported in several counties, including Middlesex County, Clarke County and Shenandoah County, reports Mathew Diebel of USA Today.

Sap from the invasive plant, combined with sunlight, can cause third-degree burns and permanent blindness, according to researchers. This causes the skin to be highly sensitive to ultraviolet light. If the sap gets into the eyes, it can cause permanent blindness. However, hogweed sap is so potent that the skin can remain sensitive for years following exposure, according to fact-checking site Snopes.

The risky Giant Hogweed recently identified in Virginia was "planted intentionally", according to the Virginia Tech researchers who helped identify the plant. Caitlin O'Kane of CBS News reports that birds and waterways can also transport the seeds to new locations.

Debra Martin, a program manager with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said officials are formulating a plan to respond to the discovery. Removing the plants requires special care and, most importantly, protective gear.

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