ibusinesslines.com September 21, 2018

Lookout: Giant hogweed could be headed our way

20 June 2018, 03:47 | Melissa Porter

Hogweed warning sign in Ontario Canada

Hogweed warning sign in Canada

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.

Isle of Wight County officials say complications of contact with a Giant Hogweed include blisters as well as phytophotodermatitis, which occurs when the sap makes the skin so sensitive to sunlight that severe burns can occur from normal exposure to the sun, a condition that can last many years.

A huge weed that can cause third-degree burns and even blindness has been found in Virginia. "There is a strong possibility that the Giant Hogweed could find its way into the Tidewater/Coastal Virginia area".

CBS News reported that the giant hogweed can be found in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

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.

If you encounter the plant, don't touch it.

It originated in Asia's Caucasus Mountains and, according to SUNY College at Brockport, one of the first North American plantings of giant hogweed was in Rochester, New York.

Green stems are splotched with purple and have coarse white hairs, which carry the plant's risky sap. The VT said about 30 of the large flowering plants were found.

Hogweed is in the carrot family and can grow 14 feet or taller.

While giant hogweed was often originally planted for ornamental reasons, it can spread if soil containing plant or seeds gets moved or if seeds are carried by wind or a person or animal to a new location.

Don't remove giant hogweed by using a weed eater or brush cutter because this may "splatter" the sap and release seeds, which could promote new growth.

Those methods involve cutting the plant roots, removing seed heads, mowing them down when they're still small, and even dosing the whole thing with herbicide.

If your skin is exposed to the plant's sap, avoid contact with eyes and wash it off immediately with soap and cold water, advises the New York State Department of Health.

If you think you've been burned by a reaction after coming into contact, see a physician immediately.

If sap gets into your eyes, rinse them and wear sunglasses.

If a reaction occurs, topical steroids applied early can reduce its severity and ease discomfort.

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