Environmental officials in Virginia said while there has just been one confirmed case in Clarke County, they are warning residents in other parts of the state to stay alert for potential sightings. Earlier this month, scientists from The Massey Herbarium at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University penned a Facebook post announcing they'd identified Virginia's first giant hogweed.
Its sap contains toxic chemicals known as photosensitizing furanocoumarins.
"It may be possible for hogweed seeds to remain viable in the soil for 15 years", the agency said. Contact with the eyes can cause temporary and sometimes permanent blindness. The stalks feature thorns and the plant produces large white flower blooms - it's an intimidating plant.
"Remember that giant hogweed is very similar to the widespread species cow parsnip", which is native to Virginia, the Massey Herbarium said on Facebook. Researchers say they have found this type of 30 plants at 1 area. You could also soak a compress in a mixture of aluminum acetate, which is available at most pharmacies, if you think you've come into contact with the hogweed.
These pesky plants spread when birds and waterways carry seeds to new locations.
Recent sightings in OH include a giant hogweed plant in Pepper Pike, according to the Cleveland Metroparks.
Giant hogweed grows best in the borders between forests and open areas, particularly along roads and streams. "If you get sap on your clothes, carefully remove the clothing to avoid skin and eye contact and wash separately from other clothing with warm water and detergent". The hazardous plant lives 3 to 5 years and is especially hardy, meaning it can grow just about anywhere and is especially hard to remove.
Horticulturists looking for the next ornamental curiosity brought the plant to England in 1817, where it escaped the Royal Botanic Gardens and flourished in the wild. If necessary, the DNR can even obtain a court order to eradicate it.