Hogweed plant that causes burns, blindness found in northern Virginia

Posted at 10:50 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 22:58:55-04

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Giant Hogweed, the dangerous plant that researchers say can cause third-degree burns and permanent blindness, has been discovered in northern Virginia.

The invasive plant was found Thursday in the Parkfairfax neighborhood in Alexandria. Hogweed was discovered between two buildings on Martha Custis Drive in a planting bed.

Property managers said representatives with the Virginia Cooperative Extension confirmed the identity of the plant.

This is the second confirmed sighting of Giant Hogweed in Virginia. The hogweed was intentionally planted in Clarke County, Virginia decades ago, according to Virginia Tech researchers.

Sap from the plant, in combination with sunlight can cause third-degree burns and permanent blindness, according to researchers.

PHOTO: Parkfairfax

The sap contains furocoumarin which to humans is strongly phototoxic.

Property managers with Parkfairfax say that they plan to properly remove the plant “as soon as possible.”

“If you come across this plant, please DO NOT TOUCH IT.”

Giant Hogweed can grow to be up to 14 feet tall, has clusters of small white flowers, and pointy leaves that look similar to a maple leaf.

Researchers say Giant Hogweed should not be removed by weed-whacker or lawnmower.

Eradication should be done wearing proper safety gear using physical removal or by using herbicides such as glyphosate or triclopyr. Read more about removal here.

If you come across this plant, you can report sightings of an invasive species here.

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