Giant Hogweed, A Toxic Plant That Causes Burns And Blindness, Has Popped Up In Virginia


Don’t touch this plant! “Giant Hogweed” may sound like a mythical plant from a fictional British school of magic for students, but it’s real and this toxic plant can cause serious burns or even blindness.

The plant is somewhat rare, but a recent sighting in Virginia for the first time ever warrants new warnings for those who spend a lot of time outdoors. Previously, warnings have been issued in states such as Michigan and New York, among others in the Northwest, Midwest and Pacific Northwest, CBS News reports.

The Dangers

If you do come in contact with Heracleum mantegazzianum – also known as “giant hogweed” – there are some things you need to know. First, the plant’s sap won’t burn instantaneously. The sap works by making your skin highly sensitive to the sun, so if you think you may have grazed hogweed during one of your outdoor adventures, follow these steps:

  • Get out of the sun
  • Wash the area with soap and cold water (heat can make things worse)
  • Stay out of the sun – The first 48 hours are critical, but if you do develop a rash, that part of your skin could potentially stay sensitive for YEARS.
  • If the sap got into your eyes, rinse your eyes with water and wear sunglasses.

For more helpful information on giant hogweed, head over to New York State’s Department of Conservation. Because the toxic plant is fairly common in the state, they have excellent information on how to deal with it. The page also shows some graphic photos of a hogweed rash, presented in a time course so you can see how long it takes to heal.

Stay safe out there!

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