Science

Risky weed found in Virginia was intentionally planted

Risky weed found in Virginia was intentionally planted

Giant hogweed is part of the carrot family, and for a toxic plant, it is surprisingly pretty. Other discoveries have prompted warnings after it was found across the Midwest, as well as in MI and NY.

Giant hogweed has previously been found in Michigan, Illinois, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Washington.

Giant Hogweed plant found in Virgina.

It can be identified by a large compound umbel of white flowers, large, deeply incised leaves and prominent white hairs and purple blotches on its stems, according to OSU Extension.




Its sap contains toxic chemicals known as photosensitizing furanocoumarins.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has a long list of methods for eradicating the plant-and an equally long list of warnings about what can go wrong. The latest confirmed sighting of giant hogweed in Clarke County, Virginia.

Touching giant hogweed can also lead to long-term sunlight sensitivity, and blindness if sap gets into a person's eye. The hogweed in Clarke County, at least, seems to have been planted intentionally by a previous homeowner, according to Virginia Tech researchers, and is unlikely to spread. If the sap gets into the eyes, it can cause permanent blindness. You could also soak a compress in a mixture of aluminum acetate, which is available at most pharmacies, if you think you've come into contact with the hogweed. He said the plant is easily mistaken for cow parsnips, but gardeners who aren't sure what they're looking at should back away and contact their local Virginia Tech agricultural extension agent or the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs. These can grow for 10 years once they're dropped off, according to published reports. The problem comes if you disturb it by, say, putting a weed wacker to it. Instead, seek advice from professional plant control specialists.

Should one touch giant hogweed sap, it's not quite as bad as touching the acidic blood of the titular creatures in the "Alien" franchise.