A number of states across the United States are becoming increasingly concerned because of a certain plant. It appears to be similar to a harmless plant but if you come in contact with it, it can lead to severe injury. It is known as the giant hogweed and Virginia appears to be the State that is most recently infiltrated. The plant is beautiful but very dangerous.
When you look at the plant, you will essentially be looking at a large weed with white flowers. It is the sap on the inside that is dangerous because it contains photosensitizing furanocoumarins. The chemical makes the plant photosensitive and when a human comes in contact with it, their skin may become overly sensitive to light exposure.
Because the sensitivity is increased suddenly and rapidly, it can cause long-term skin conditions and third-degree burns. If the sap gets into your eyes, it can lead to permanent blindness.
You can recognize the plant and avoid it if you see one. It is between eight and 14 feet high with large leaves that may be as much as 5 feet wide. Those leaves are lobed and dark green. The stem of the weed is hollow with white hairs and purple speckles. Typically, the weed has white flowers growing in a cluster on top and is umbrella shaped.
So far, the plant has been seen in Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
If you have one of these weeds growing in your yard, do not attempt to remove it by yourself. Don’t mow it or cut it because it can lead to a greater potential for exposure to the sap. The best thing to do is to contact a plant control specialist and if it is necessary to touch the plant in an emergency, protect yourself with long clothing and rubber gloves.
If your clothing comes in contact with the sap, remove it carefully as to not get any in your eyes or on your skin. The clothing should be washed with warm water and detergent immediately but keep it separate from your other clothing while doing so.
What if you come in contact with the giant hogweed by accident? Immediately get out of the sun and rinse the affected area with cold water and soap. Apply sunscreen to the area and keep it covered for several weeks or even months if you go out in the sun.
This video will help you to know more about giant hogweed: