As if New England needs another noxious weed that causes horrible rashes! Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is currently blooming and according to the USDA is spreading through New England and into Canada.
With white flat top flowers, it looks a lot like queen annes lace and cow parsley which makes it a little tough to identify. It was introduced in 1917 and is on the Federal List of Noxious Weeds.
You might remember last fall how I was lured in by the pretty white berried siren song of poison ivy….well this guy could give those white berries a run for their pretty little money. It is quite tall (up to 14′) with big white flat heads and large invitingly touchable hairy leaves and stems.
But DO NOT TOUCH IT!
Its watery sap reacts with the sun on the skin and causes blistering. If it gets in your eyes it will cause permanent blindness. Vitims report that the burns of hogweed are much, much worse than those caused by poison ivy (anecdotally…10x worse).
If you do come in contact with it — cover the area so that it cannot react with the sun. Wash with soap and water and call a doctor. The burn develops over a few days.
Also call the Giant Hogweed Hotline at 845-256-3111 – they will arrange for it to be exterminated.
- New York State DEC information
- Lyrics of Giant Hogweed song by Genesis – yes, even Peter Gabriel seems to be terrified of this plant.
- USDA Giant Hogweed Poster
Top image from Deviant Art. bottom image from the Poison Diaries (a handy instagram account that shares images of poisonous plants).