Described by some as a ”horror” plant, Heracleum mantegazzianum or ”the giant Hogweed” has been constantly spreading & growing across the US states of Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
It’s a beautiful plant that grows between 8 and 14 feet and has lobed, dark green leaves that can hit 5 feet in diameter but touching it can have lifelong consequences such as permanent scars and burns or even permanent blindness if it comes in contact with your eyes.
The quick spread of the Giant Hodweed has forced health officials and experts to issue warnings to citizens about this plant.
I know, it’s quite a sight to look at BUT don’t let that fool you.
There are a lot of dangerous plants out there that irritate our skin when touched or poison us if consumed, but the giant Hogweed – which is also known by many other names, such as giant cow parsnip, giant cow parsley, cartwheel-flower, or hogsbane – is the most dangerous one.
The reason for it being so dangerous to us is a special sap that contains a chemical called Photosynthesizing furanocoumarins whose function is to make the plant extremely sensitive to light for better health and growth BUT, unfortunately, that means if you touch it it will immediately make the affected zone extremely prone to sunburns – leading to a variety of skin problems that could be with you for the rest of your life. If that wasn’t enough, if the sap comes in contact with your eye by accident, the extreme sensitivity to light can cause permanent blindness.
If you DO touch the sap you need to IMMEDIATELY get out of the sun and go somewhere shady.
Continuously apply sunscreen to the area or cover it with a bandage that will fully cover it from the sun, even months after the accident.
If you have a giant Hogweed in your backyard please, under any circumstances, DO NOT try to get rid of it yourself but instead contact a professional plant control specialist as soon as possible.