Saturday, 17 November, 2018

The plant which can cause severe burns and blindness

Giant hogweed an invasive plant that can cause third-degree burns and even permanent blindness has been found in Virginia and other states.  VT MASSEY HERBARIUM An Invasive Plant That Causes Third-Degree Burns And Even Blindness Has Been Found In Virginia
Doris Mccormick | 21 June, 2018, 10:26

If it gets into an eye, it can even cause blindness. In the early 20th century, the herb was introduced to the United States as an ornamental garden plant - the impressively-sized plant's white flower heads can reach two and a half feet in diameter.

So far, there has been just one confirmed sighting of Giant Hogweed - in Clarke County, Virginia, but the unsafe plant also grows in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and ME, according to CBS.

"A similar-looking invasive plant that's been found in N.C. and Kentucky (which could eventually arrive in Tennessee), Wild Parsnip (or 'Poison Parsnip"), can also cause similar symptoms from severe itching to skin burns and blistering. The USDA website shows it has also been found in MI and IL. However, as reported, the population of this extremely unsafe plant could even be noticed in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

A giant hogweed stem.

Don't be fooled by it's interesting appearance, a large stalk with huge leaves and umbrella-shaped clusters of white flowers, this noxious weed is extremely risky, and can cause 3rd degree burns. The toxic furanocoumarins are present in all parts of the plant: The lower parts of the hollow stems and petioles may be partly filled with sap, and the hollow hairs on the plant also contain sap.

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Giant hogweed, which is native to central Asia, likes to grow along riverbanks and can grow larger than a person. "Sounds like they actually planted it about 30 or 40 years ago as a decorative species, but nobody knew they were there until just now". Second, while the giant hogweed's leaves will be about five feet wide and incised, the leaves of its harmless doppelgänger are about half as wide.

Giant hogweed is listed in Virginia by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) as a "noxious weed, ' and by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) as "an early detection invasive plant", which means it is not yet entrenched in Virginia, Heffernan said".

There are specific procedures to ensure the plants are killed and certain herbicides legal for use by a licensed pesticide applicator. A toxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact.

Other tips include using topical steroids to ease discomfort.

In general, the NY DEC recommends contacting them (or your state DEC outside of New York) for professional removal.

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