Giant Hogweed Plant Found in Va. Poses Health Hazards

21 Juin, 2018, 10:28 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Giant Hogweed Plant Found in Va. Poses Health Hazards

The researchers have finally discovered the invasive and risky species of plant, Giant Hogweed in northern Virginia which can cause third-degree burns as well as blindness.

A single giant hogweed plant can produce up to 20,000 seeds.

A Facebook post from Isle of Wight County in Virginia displays several photos of the rapid progression of blistering on the hand of someone affected by toxins from giant hogweed.

Control of giant hogweed can be done manually or with herbicides.

It originated in Asia's Caucasus Mountains and, according to SUNY College at Brockport, one of the first North American plantings of giant hogweed was in Rochester, New York. The umbrella-shaped white floral blooms grow up to two and a half feet wide.

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Don't be fooled by it's interesting appearance, a large stalk with huge leaves and umbrella-shaped clusters of white flowers, this noxious weed is extremely risky, and can cause 3rd degree burns. It tends to grow in areas with abundant light and moist soil, including along streams and rivers and in fields, forests, yards and roadsides. It features green and purple-splotched stems covered in white hairs, huge incised leaves up to 5 feet across and a mushroom-like canopy top with 50 to 150 individual white flowers.

According to the county, some complications if anyone comes into contact with a Giant Hogweed includes, varying skin reactions, but phytophotodermatitis can occur, meaning the sap makes the skin so sensitive to sunlight that sever burns can occur from normal exposure to the sun. Long-term sensitivity to sunlight, according to the NYDEC, is common. Topical steroids can reduce the severity of the burns. The flowering plant, traditionally found in the Northeast, oozes sap that causes severe burns. Sap in a person's eye can damage their vision as well, possibly resulting in blindness.

The site advises to "call your healthcare provider for any severe reactions or if sap has gotten into your eyes".

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. 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".

Besides being incredibly risky, the giant hogweed is also very resilient.

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