Virginia Officials Warn of Dangerous Invasive Plant

Virginia Officials Warn of Dangerous Invasive Plant

Around the beginning of June, a Virginia Department of Transportation worker found another bunch of giant hogweed growing in Frederick County after quick-witted employees, recalling a U.S. Department of Agriculture warning about the plant some years ago, spotted it.

The sap can cause painful blisters that can form and become "dark and pigmented", and scars that can last up to six years, according to the NYDEC.

An invasive giant hogweed plant in Virginia.

The plant is a member of the carrot family and can grow to more than 14 feet tall, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Contact with the eyes can cause temporary or permanent blindness.

In a Facebook message posted on the afternoon of June 12, the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech announced their discovery of 30 giant hogweed plants in Clarke County.

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Giant hogweed seeds are dispersed across short distances by the wind, but they can make it further if they are accidentally transported in soil.

The spray of white flowers looks similar to Queen Anne's Lace, but the experts at Massey Herbarium note that giant hogweed is much larger, with chunkier leaves. Call your health care provider in case of a severe reaction. "There have been reports from VDOT of sightings of Giant Hogweed in the Staunton area and Middlesex County", they said. 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. The plants spread when birds or waterways carry the seeds to new locations.

Giant hogweed grows best in the borders between forests and open areas, particularly along roads and streams. Instead, seek advice from professional plant control specialists.

Well, giant hogweed (despite having an ugly name) is actually kind of pretty. And if the sap gets in your eyes, rinse them out as soon as you can, put on sunglasses and call your doctor.

Environmental officials say if you want to remove the plant, do not use a weed-whacker, because the plant's sap can splatter and then spread quickly.

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