A plant that can cause third-degree burns and blindness, Officials Warn

Hogweed warning sign in Canada

Hogweed warning sign in Ontario Canada

"It does look similar to some other common weeds, but if you suspect it could be giant hogweed, protect yourself first before any further investigation".

It has been listed as a noxious weed by the United States Department of Agriculture National Resources Conservation resources and has been found along West and East Coast states.

A huge weed that can cause third-degree burns and even blindness has been found in Virginia. It can cause blindness if it gets in an eye. So if you call any of those locations home (or a vacation destination), it can't hurt to commit a few distinguishing features of the plant to memory.

"Giant Hogweed" sounds like a mythical plant that the students of Hogwarts may study, but it's real - and it's unsafe.

This was a bad idea.

The plant, also known as Heracleum mantegazzianum, has a watery sap that makes the skin extremely sensitive to the sun.

If Hogweed sap gets into the eye, rinse them with water immediately and put on sunglasses.

About 30 of these towering plants have been found in Clarke County, and locals are warned to keep an eye out for sightings.

Giant hogweed had previously been reported in Michigan, New York, Ohio and places in the Northwest, Midwest and Pacific Northwest. The US Department of Agriculture's website shows it has also been found in MI and IL.

The plant, which is in the carrot family, cannot only pose a threat to your skin, but it can also impact the environment.

A giant hogweed stem.

The plant can grow up to 14 feet high (hence the word "Giant" in its name) and have stems that are two to four inches in diameter.

The leaves are lobed, deeply cut, and up to five feet across. The Massey Herbarium said it appeared the previous landowner planted the giant hogweed at the site for ornamental reasons.

Recent reports out of New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania all record sightings of giant hogweed, a tall member of the carrot family whose clear sap creates a phototoxin when exposed to moisture and sunlight.

There are specific procedures that need to followed to be sure the plants are killed, and there are certain herbicides that are legal for use by a licensed pesticide applicator.

When the plant was spotted in NY, the state health department recommended that those exposed to the plant cleanse the affected area with cold water and remain out of sunlight.

"Giant Hogweed makes Poison Ivy look like a walk in the park". Topical steroids can reduce the severity of the burns.

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