Virginia Officials Warn of Dangerous Invasive Plant

22 June, 2018, 21:42 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Science								Image Source debs-eye

Giant hogweed is on the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's "Invasive Plants Early Detection Species" list.

Officials are forming a plan to respond to the discovery, said Debra Martin, a program manager with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services confirmed on Tuesday that giant hogweed, a toxic weed that can grow up to 15 feet tall and resembles the less risky cow parsnip, was identified at a private home in Clarke County.

Though common in NY state, which has spent millions fighting the plant, and elsewhere in the Northeast, the giant hogweeds in Berryville and Frederick County are the plant's first known locations in Virginia.

Giant hogweed is so unsafe because it releases a sap that contains chemicals called photosensitizing furanocoumarins.




One of the primary points they mention is that the plants have to be cut after the seeds appear, but before they mature. "And, if the sap gets in your eyes, there is the potential for blindness". The stalks feature thorns and the plant produces large white flower blooms - it's an intimidating plant.

While the environmental impact is certainly concerning, the giant hogweed is risky in other ways.

Giant hogweed has previously been found in Michigan, Illinois, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Washington.

"Giant Hogweed can grow to be up to 14 feet tall while cow parsnip is generally shorter", Metzgar said. If you must touch giant hogweed, wear disposable rubber gloves, a long-sleeved shirt and trousers.

Compressed soaked in an aluminum acetate mixture that is available at pharmacy provide relief form skin irritation. And if the sap gets in your eyes, rinse them out as soon as you can, put on sunglasses and call your doctor. The Berryville patch was planted by a previous owner, as the blooms, in a simpler time, were considered decorative. Caitlin O'Kane of CBS News reports that birds and waterways can also transport the seeds to new locations. Giant hogweed is fast-growing and is known to invade roadsides, the edges of forests and empty lots, the AP said.

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