Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Around 30 noxious Hogweed have been found in Virginia

Credit MaxPixel Credit MaxPixel
Melissa Porter | 20 June, 2018, 15:47

Although it may sound like a monster from a classic B-movie, giant hogweed is very real and it's also more than a little bit risky.

When a person comes in contact with the sap of the unsafe plant species in combination to exposure to sunlight can result in extreme skin and health conditions. If you somehow get the sap in your eyes, it can blind you.

The plant, a giant hogweed, was introduced to the United Kingdom and Europe in the late nineteenth century and to the USA in the early 20century, and its potential threat to people is the subject of research by Virginia Tech's Jennifer Gagnon.

For information on safely handling and eliminating giant hogweed, which requires more than simply cutting it down, Davis suggests reading "Control of Giant Hogweed" from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. In less than a week, 30 plants have been reported, according to the Herbarium's Facebook page. The USDA website shows it has also been found in MI and IL.

Ms Gagnon wrote the plant, a member of the carrot family, can grow to be more than 3.6 metres tall and it "out-competes native plant species" by preventing them from accessing sunlight.

Giant hogweed is most commonly mistaken for cow parsnip, which has "white flat-topped flower clusters no larger than 1 foot wide".

Massive leaves can stretch 5 feet across. 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.

Giant hogweed also produces thousands of dry, flat, oval seeds, which are about 3/8 of an inch long and have brown lines on them. The Massey Herbarium said it appeared the previous landowner planted the giant hogweed at the site for ornamental reasons.

If you find a Hogweed plant, do not use a weed-whacker because the plant's sap can quickly spread.

There are specific procedures that need to followed to be sure the plants are killed, and there are certain herbicides that are legal for use by a licensed pesticide applicator.

The New York Department of Conservation website states that anyone who comes into contact with giant hogweed should immediately wash the affected area with soap and water and keep out of sunlight for 48 hours.

Authorities say that if you are exposed to the sap, your first goal should be to get out of the sunlight and into shade, immediately if not sooner.

In general, the NY DEC recommends contacting them (or your state DEC outside of New York) for professional removal.