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Important Things To Know About The Toxic Hogweed Plant

3 min read
It is determined that hogweed has been spreading across the state of New York, and many other states, it can be extremely dangerous and is extremely toxic. The DEC believes it's very important for people to understand what hogweed is, and how to avoid it.
Toxic Hogweed

Child's hands after being exposed to the toxic plant

The Department Of Environmental Conservation Offers Information Abut the Toxic Hogweed Plant

The giant hogweed plant is toxic and can cause severe medical conditions. Contact with this plant should be avoided according to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

It is determined that hogweed has been spreading across the state of New York, and many other states, it can be extremely dangerous and is extremely toxic. The DEC believes it’s very important for people to understand what hogweed is, and how to avoid it.

The first order of business is to be able to easily identity a hogweed growth. Heracleum mantegazzianum, is the formal name for giant hogweed which the federal government deems as ‘poisonous’.

Surprisingly hogweed is included in the carrot family, and can grow to be 14 feet in height. Although hogweed is an extremely toxic plant it’s aesthetically pleasing, with it’s pretty white flowers at the very top of the plant.

The hogweed plant formation is similar to an umbrella shape. With lush leaves with an average circumference of five feet. The base of the plant has vibrant color of purple, white and green.

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Hogweed Plant Arrived In The U.S. During The Early Part Of The 20th Century

Many may be surprised to learn that the hogweed plant originally came from the Caucasus Mountains. Those mountains are located in between the Black and Caspian sea near Russia.

According to experts birds carried the seeds of the plant from their original location to other places. Another way the hogweed seeds were transported to other locations is through the waterways. Seeds transported by birds or waterways can grow for up to tens years after they are dropped.

The DEC advises that currently confirmed hogweed locations in the US are in 11 states. Those states, Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia,Vermont,Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland.

How Exactly Can The Hogweed Plant Harm Humans & Their Pets

The main source of the danger in the giant hogweed plant is in the sap. The sap in the plant contains a toxic compound called, photosensitizing furanocoumarins.

Compound Interest offers this great explanation on their site

When human skin or the skin of a pet comes into contact with this compound it causes light sensitivity. That skin that has been exposed to the sap, develops painful blisters on the skin.

These symptoms begin usually within 48 hours after exposure to the sap. This condition can last between a few months to six years. If the sap is touched, it can cause permanent light sensitivity. If the sap gets into the eyes of a human or dog or cat it can cause blindness.

What Can Be Done If The Sap Is Accidentally Touched?

The New York Department of Health (NYDH) recommends that the sap should immediately be washed off with very cold water.

A person or animal should quickly get out of the sun, The toxic reaction commonly occurs about 15 minutes after exposure. If a person can not get out of the sun immediately sun screen should be applied liberally.

That may stop the reaction from getting worse, pharmacies have some treatments available for exposure to the sap. The treatment consists of a cold compress soaked with a mixture of aluminum acetate.

If the sap gets into eyes of humans or pets, the eyes should be washed with very cold water. Sunglasses should be put on immediately. If the symptoms get worse a doctor should be contacted.

Invasive Plant Atlas offers more information along with several images to help identify this toxic plant.


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