Invasive plant can cause severe burns, blindness

22 June, 2018, 21:40 | Author: Sidney Guerrero
  • INVASIVE PLANT THAT BLINDS, CAUSES 3RD-DEGREE BURNS FOUND IN VIRGINIA

Giant hogweed is on the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's "Invasive Plants Early Detection Species" list.

The massive stalks can grow from 7 to 14 feet tall, and the leaves can stretch five feet across.

After Michigan, New York, a researcher has discovered almost 30 plants in Virginia Tech area.

"The sap contains chemicals that are activated by sunlight", Metzgar said. Hogweed has been a problem plant in Pennsylvania and NY but had not been seen so far south in the US, until now, as The Post reported this week.

When sap from the giant hogweed combines with moisture and sunlight, it can cause severe skin and eye irritation.

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If you suspect you've found a giant hogweed, you're asked to take photos of a leaf, stem and flower and contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office, or fill out an online report. "There is a strong possibility that the Giant Hogweed could find its way into the Tidewater/Coastal Virginia area". Giant hogweeds have also been known to plague Washington and Oregon. Here are handy tips to help you identify giant hogweed. And if the sap gets in your eyes, rinse them out as soon as you can, put on sunglasses and call your doctor. Warnings have been issued in previous years after discoveries in Michigan, New York and elsewhere in the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Northwest. The plants spread when birds or waterways carry the seeds to new locations.

The site also notes that Hogweed seeds can stay viable in the soil for up to 15 years-so once this stuff moves in, residents have to stay watchful even if it looks like they have successfully eradicated it.

Horticulturists looking for the next ornamental curiosity brought the plant to England in 1817, where it escaped the Royal Botanic Gardens and flourished in the wild. The plant is a native of the Caucasus region of Eurasia, between the Black and Caspian seas.

When the plant spread across New York in the past, The New York State Department of Health recommended that anyone who came in contact with the plant wash it off with cold water immediately and get out of the sun.

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