Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a very large plant that buds pretty white flowers, which give it an altogether innocuous look. But, make no mistake touching this plant!
This plant is dangerous both for adults and for kids, but it may present a higher risk for kids as they are more curious.
This valuable information should be taught 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.
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. 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.
What Will It Do To You?
If you come into contact with the plant’s sap, you can expect severe blistering, possible blindness if it comes into contact with your eyes, and possible third degree burns.
These effects come from the type of chemicals the plant contains. When these chemicals come in contact with human skin, they dramatically increase the skin’s sensitivity to light.
This can cause blisters that are actually very painful and form within around 48 hours. They can last from anywhere between a few months to six years. If the sap gets in the eye it can cause LONG TERM sensitivity to light.
What to Do if You or Your Child Come In Contact with it
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 keep the area away from sunlight for 48 hours.
Apply sunblock/sunscreen on the affected area, if you are in an outdoors 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 this photo, you will see 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 hands is swollen.
The little girl is from Scotland, but the plant grows as well in USA and Canada.
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 reported sightings of the plant.
How to Get Rid Of This Pest
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 fear of this plant.
The best advice if this plant is near 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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