Tue. Jun 18th, 2024
WARNING: If You See This Plant Growing Nearby, Whatever You Do Don’t Touch It!WARNING: If You See This Plant Growing Nearby, Whatever You Do Don’t Touch It!

What is giant hogweed and what does it look like?

Giant hogweed is a noxious weed that can grow well over a dozen feet high, with rigid stems that stretch about 2 to 4 inches across and feature dark, reddish-purple spots. The plant’s leaves can grow up to 5 feet wide, while its white flower heads can get as big as 2 1/2 feet in diameter, notes the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Where is it found?

Native to Asia, giant hogweed was introduced to Europe and the British Isles in the 19th century as an ornamental plant, and later in the 20th century made its way to the U.S. and Canada, where it is now a common sight along riverbanks, forest paths and meadows in many countries.

Generally, you’ll find the plant where there is plenty of open space with abundant sunlight and moist soil, “but it can grow in partially shaded habitats too,” the New York Environmental Conservation Department notes.

What happens if you come in contact with it?

As Wikipedia notes, “the sap of giant hogweed causes phytophotodermatitis in humans, resulting in blisters, long-lasting scars, and—if it comes in contact with eyes—blindness. These serious reactions are due to the furocoumarin derivatives in the leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds of the plant.”

If you do happen to touch it or allow it to brush against your skin, here’s the recommended treatment:

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“Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and keep the area away from sunlight for 48 hours. This plant poses a serious health threat; 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,” according to the New York Environmental Conservation Department.

That, of course, explains why health and environmental agencies issue such urgent warnings against it — even brushing by the plant is enough release its sap, which can cause serious burns to your skin within 24 hours.

And if it gets in your eyes, it can cause temporary or even permanent blindness, the Independent points out — so never touch your eyes if you discover you’ve come in contact with giant hogweed.

By Evelyn Smith

Evelyn Smith is a passionate advocate for a healthy vegan lifestyle. She is dedicated to promoting plant-based living and sharing her knowledge and experiences with others. Evelyn believes that a vegan lifestyle not only benefits personal health but also contributes to a more sustainable and compassionate world. With a background in nutrition and wellness, she strives to inspire and educate individuals on the benefits of embracing a vegan diet and lifestyle. When she's not busy spreading the vegan message, Evelyn enjoys exploring new vegan recipes, practicing yoga, and connecting with like-minded individuals on her website, Healthy Vegan Style.

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