By C. Davis
This plant is called giant hogweed and buds pretty white flowers that give it an altogether innocuous look. Folks, make no mistake touching this plant!
Kids are in danger because they are more curious.
They should teach this in schools. There are only 10 plants in north america (excluding fungi) that kids need to know to avoid. So sad that kids aren’t taught basic things like this… or like what poison oak looks like.(source)
Although part of the Carrot family, the giant hogweed can grow up to 14 feet tall and has a deadly toxic sap!
If you brush up against this plant, accidentally break the stem or touch any of its sap that may be on it already you will get powerful blisters! The stem is quite tall so this is very easy to do and this applies to any part of your body with skin! The stems are green with patches of purple and is a bit hairy, filled with white hairs so you have an idea of what to avoid.
If you come into contact with the plant’s sap you can expect sever blistering, possible blindness f it comes into contact with your eyes and possible third degree burns. These effects come from the type of chemicals that it contains. When these chemicals come in contact with human skin they dramatically increase the skins sensitivity to light.
This can cause blisters that are actually very painful and form within around 48 hours and can last from anywhere between a few months to six years. It can cause LONG TERM sensitivity to light if the sap gets in the eye.
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The best prevention is of course to avoid it!
But if you come into contact with the plant you should wash with cold water immediately as the toxic reaction can begin within 15 minutes after contact and get the heck out of the sun.
Apply sunblock/sunscreen on the affected area if you are in an outdoor situation with no way to get indoors for a while.
If the same sap gets into your eyes, rinse and make sure all of it is out of the eye. Then wear sunglasses to reduce sensitivity.
If you look at the hands in the first photo you will see a photo of a 10 year old girl that was infected by this plant. As you can see the blisters in the photo are enormous and the rest of her hand is swollen.
The little girl is from Scotland, but don’t “worry”, the plant grows as well in USA and Canada.
Recently there were public warnings about the plant and the serious problems caused by coming in contact with it. New York, Maryland, Virginia, Oregon ,Ohio, Washington, Pennsylvania, Michigan and some other states are reporting sightings of the plant.
Well conventional wisdom would say cut it down and maybe spray some weed killer on it. Think again, this will possibly just spread seeds and create a few more toxic plants. You may also be exposed to the toxic sap that is the whole cause of the fear of this plant.
The best advice if this plant is near to your home or on your land is to call EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) hotline – 1-800-424-8802 or your individual state agency in order to remove this plant as it is on the radar of many countries, and is considered a pest.
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