Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). Photo: kacege photography / Getty Images

By Kashmira Gander
18 June 2018

(Newsweek) – "Giant hogweed makes poison ivy look like a walk in the park," officials warned.

Officials have warned the public against touching giant hogweed, which can burn the skin and cause blindness, after it was spotted for the first time in Virginia.

Also known as Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed has a clear, watery sap which can burn the skin and cause painful blistering when combined with moisture and sunlight. The resulting blisters can leave behind permanent scarring. This process, known as phytophotodermatitis, happens when the sap makes the skin more sensitive to sunlight.

After the blisters have healed, the skin can remain sensitive to light for many years, officials in Virginia warned.

On Wednesday, the Isle of Wight County, Virginia issued a safety alert stating giant hogweed had been found in the state.

“Giant Hogweed makes poison ivy look like a walk in the park,” officials warned on the Isle of Wight County Virginia Facebook page.

The Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech university, which researches the state’s flora, confirmed it had identified the first giant hogweed population in Clark County. […]

Giant hogweed is already found in the Pacific Northwest, and the northeastern states of New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. It has also been reported in one country in North Carolina, according to the Virginia Invasive species register.

The federal government has listed the plant as a noxious weed, alongside the states of Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, and Washington. [more]

Plant Which Can Cause Blindness Spreads to New State



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