If you thought poison ivy was bad, just wait until you read about this plant. There is an invasive plant that has been found in Virginia that can cause third-degree burns on those who come in contact with it. This dangerous plant can also cause permanent blindness, according to researchers at the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech.
Giant Hogweed is the plant that has had a confirmed sighting in Clarke County, Virginia. This dangerous plant also grows in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, according to CBS News.
Experts are currently investigating potential sightings in other parts of the state. It is contact with the plant’s sap, in combination with sun exposure, that can lead to those extreme conditions.
The sap from the Giant Hogweed can cause painful blisters. And if it gets in contact with your eyes, there is the potential for blindness, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
The plant is connected to the carrot family. It is not only dangerous when it comes in contact with humans, it can impact the environment as well. The Giant Hogweed can grow up to 14 feet, deeply shading areas and inhibiting growth of native species.
The plant has hollow stems that generally grow to two to four inches in diameter, with dark purple and red raised spots and bristle-like hairs. The umbrella-shaped white floral blooms grow up to two and a half feet wide.
The plant can sometimes be mistaken for other harmless plants, such as Queen Anne’s Lace and Cow Parsnip.
Virginia residents are warned not use a weed-whacker to remove the plant. This will cause the plant’s sap to splatter and spread quickly. Removal of the plant should be done by physical removal or using herbicides such as glyphosate or triclopyr.