Invasive plant that causes blindness and third-degree burns discovered in a US state
The invasive plant is called giant hogweed, and according to experts, it can give you blisters, cause blindness, as well as third-degree burns. Hogweed is said to be mostly found in the northeast of the United States.
Originating from Asia as an ornamental plant, hogweed had been spotted from North Carolina up to Maine and mostly in New York.
Perhaps the terrifying trait of this plant is that it can just pop in anybody’s backyard.
Extreme precaution is advised when it comes to dealing with giant hogweed.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE
Hogweed looks a lot similar to Queen Anne’s lace, but it can grow as high as 14 feet.
Daniel Waldhorn, the giant hogweed information line coordinator for New York state's Department of Environmental Conservation, explained, "It has purple blotches and coarse white hairs along the stem, very large, lobed leaves with serrated edges, and a large white umbrella-shaped flower growing on top of the plant."
The typical problem usually faced by the public is identifying the plant since there are a lot of other common ones mistaken for the lethal giant hogweed.
Plants like cow parsnip, wild parsnip, angelica, and elderberry are usually mistaken for hogweed since these plants feature quite the same characteristics, such as white flowers and their tall height.
The main thing that makes hogweed so dangerous is its sap, which covers the entire plant.
Craig Vacula, the owner of Lawn Tech, a lawn care company based in Flemington, New Jersey, explained, “There are toxic chemicals in it called furanocoumarins that can cause photodermatitis—making your skin unable to protect itself from the sun, so it causes severe burning and blistering when exposed to UV light.”
The reaction time is as quick as 15 minutes after coming into contact with the weed. After two days, blisters would start to pop up. It could also leave you permanently blind if you accidentally get it in your eyes.
“The worst thing someone could do is touch the plants with their bare skin and then expose those areas to sunlight,” said Waldhorn.
If in any case, you have been exposed to hogweed sap, Waldhorn advised to wash the area with soap and water immediately and to go to your local physician.
Also, you must stay out of sunlight for at least two days and wash anything that came into contact with the hogweed, such as your clothes or your garden equipment.
Following the incident, she has been raising awareness to inform the public about the dangerous plant.