ibusinesslines.com September 20, 2018

Virginia Tech researchers hopeful positively identified Giant Hogweed will remain contained

21 June 2018, 11:47 | Justin Tyler

A Horrifying Toxic Plant Causing Third-Degree Burns and Blindness May Start Popping Up Near Cleveland


Experts said Queen Ann's Lace is commonly mistaken for Giant Hogweed, and it is not harmful.

Warnings have been issued in previous years after discoveries in Michigan, New York and elsewhere in the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Northwest.

The plant has been spotted in NY but also, Virginia, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and parts of the Pacific Northwest.

The Virginia Tech group posted photos of the plant on Facebook, urging anyone who comes across a giant hogweed plant to report it - and be careful not to touch it.

"There is a strong possibility that the Giant Hogweed could find it's way into the Tidewater/Coastal Virginia area", the page warns.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confirmed on Tuesday that giant hogweed, a toxic weed that can grow up to 15 feet tall and resembles the less risky cow parsnip, was identified at a private home in Clarke County.

Giant hogweed, or Heracleum mantegazzianum, is a Southwest Asian plant that was brought to the United States for ill-advised ornamental purposes in 1917.

The Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech said it found the plant in Clarke County, Virginia.

The plant's watery sap contains photosensitizing agents. Contact with the eyes can cause temporary and sometimes permanent blindness. The latest confirmed sighting of giant hogweed in Clarke County, Virginia.

"Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and keep the area away from sunlight for 48 hours, the agency recommends."
Compresses soaked in an aluminum acetate mixture - available at pharmacies - can provide relief for skin irritations.

"In brief, the sap prevents your skin from protecting itself from sunlight, which leads to a very bad sunburn", according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. "This seems to be an isolated incident", Michael Flessner, an assistant professor and extension weed science specialist at Virginia Tech, said in a statement. Giant hogweeds have also been known to plague Washington and Oregon.

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