A plant that can cause third-degree burns and blindness, Officials Warn

A plant that can cause third-degree burns and blindness, Officials Warn

There have been no other reports of giant hogweed in Clarke County, but people should be on the lookout and call the Virginia Cooperative Extension or the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to report a possible sighting, Sutphin said.

The plant, which is in the carrot family, cannot only pose a threat to your skin, but it can also impact the environment. A toxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact. Second, while the giant hogweed's leaves will be about five feet wide and incised, the leaves of its harmless doppelgänger are about half as wide.

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 unsafe.

But unless you're familiar with its nasty secret, you might think the giant hogweed looks cool - these large plants can grow more than 4 metres (14 feet) tall, spreading their huge leaves and producing massive umbrella-shaped clusters of white flowers.

About 30 of these towering plants have been found in Clarke County, and locals are warned to keep an eye out for sightings. The reaction also causes dark, painful blisters, which can leave scars.

Tips for identifying giant hogweed can be found here. "It does look similar to some other common weeds, but if you suspect it could be giant hogweed, protect yourself first before any further investigation".

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On the website of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Environmental Conservation has issues notice in which it has asked all the residents of the area to be cautious about the plant and said, " Do Not Touch this Plant".

The site advises to "call your healthcare provider for any severe reactions or if sap has gotten into your eyes". A towel or compress soaked in aluminum acetate, which you can purchase from pharmacies, provides temporary relief for skin irritations. If hogweed sap gets into the eyes, rinse them with water immediately, put on sunglasses, and contact your health care provider.

It's important to know how to recognize giant hogweed if you are in a state where it might grow, and what to do if you find it.

Once you have an infestation, it takes a lot of work to control the giant hogweed to prevent its spread, as its seeds - each plant can shed thousands - remain viable in the soil for several years.

What's more, just because you've removed the plant doesn't necessarily mean that you've won the battle.