Mother Earth Living

In the Garden

Get down and dirty in the garden

Add to My MSN

In The News: Toxic Weed Can Cause Blistering and Blindness

7/14/2011 11:25:51 AM

Tags: Toxic Plant, Giant Hogweed, Blistering, Blindness, Permanent Scarring, Poisonous, Toxic, Weed, Noxious Weed, Removal

J.PattonA toxic weed is in full bloom this month, and experts are warning to steer clear as the plant pops up all over the United States, and the war on the weed rages on.

The weed, known as giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a biennial or perennial herb in the carrot family from the Caucasus Mountain region between the Black and Caspian seas. Luckily, this plant can't be hard to miss. It can grow as tall as a tree (up to 15 feet), and it has large leaves that can grow up to 5 feet wide. White flowers bloom on the plant later on in its lifespan, and they span up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter. Giant hogweed usually grows in wet areas, and it can take over ravines and stream banks rapidly.

7-14-11-hogweed 
This monstrous weed can harm those who come into contact with its sap.
Photo by debs-eye/Courtesy
Flickr 

The plant typically lives five to seven years. It tends to die down during the fall, but the dead stem still marks its presence into the winter months. It can produce between 20,000 to 100,000 seeds in its lifetime, which are typically transported by birds and waterways, and remain viable for up to 10 years.

It is illegal to import giant hogweed into the United States. However, this wasn't always the case. That's why this poisonous plant is digging its roots into the soils of the following states:

• New York
• Pennsylvania
• Ohio
• Maryland
• Oregon
• Washington
• Michigan
• Virginia
• Vermont
• New Hamphire
• Maine

Giant hogweed looks similar to cow parsnip, but don’t let its disguise fool you into thinking it’s safe to remove it yourself. The plant, which is federally listed as a noxious weed, produces a clear, toxic sap when it’s exposed to the sunlight. If you get the sap on your skin, it can cause skin irritation, painful blistering and even permanent scarring. And that’s not all—if the sap comes into contact with your eye, it can cause blindness. If you think you’ve been burned by giant hogweed, wash the skin thoroughly, protect the area from sunlight, and see your doctor as soon as possible.

If you come across giant hogweed, don’t brush up against the bristles on the stem, or break the stem or the leaves. Instead, contact your state or local department of invasive species control so proper removal procedures can be taken.



Related Content

Discover the Lost Art of Keying Wild Plants

There is a beauty in discovering the lost art of keying wild plants. Learn more about this practice.

In The News: Russian Scientists Revive 30,000-Year-Old Narrow-Leafed White Campion

Scientists in Russia have brought a narrow-leafed white campion to life from 30,000-year-old tissue.

How to Build a Container Water Garden

Container water gardens are easy to design and maintain, making them a perfect low-cost accessory to...

Natural Itching Relief: Make a Plantain Anti-Itch Balm

Find itching relief in nature. Narrow-leaved plantain is a common garden weed and also, ironically, ...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

MY COMMUNITY
no image
HarvestRight
8/21/2014 5:22:39 PM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 10:03:07 AM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 9:59:22 AM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 9:30:07 AM
no image
melisastarr
8/19/2014 12:57:22 PM
no image
Peggy McMahan
8/18/2014 11:29:51 AM
no image
lorina21
8/17/2014 10:16:45 PM
no image
lorina21
8/17/2014 10:15:23 PM


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.