Giant hogweed can cause burns and blindness

July 11, 2011 by Deborah Braconnier report
Giant Hogweed. Image: Wikipedia.

(PhysOrg.com) -- The U.S Department of Agriculture is warning residents in a variety of states to be on the lookout for the Heracleum Mantegazzianum, or giant hogweed. This plant in native to Central Asia but has turned up in numerous states within the U.S. and can cause burns, blisters and blindness.

Jodi Holt, a professor of from the University of California warns that the plant should be avoided at all costs. The giant hogweed can grow up to 15 feet tall and has umbrella-size flowers. These flowers contain a toxic sap that contains a photosensitizing chemical that causes phytophotodermatitis.

When the sap comes in contact with , a reaction can occur within 15 minutes, especially when the person is in direct sunlight. The chemical essentially accelerates and results in serious sunburn which can blister and cause scars and . If the sap comes in contact with the eyes, blindness can occur. Reports of blindness have occurred when young children have played with the plants hollow stalks as telescopes.

The U.S has placed the giant hogweed on its Federal Noxious Weed list. The plant has been reported in a number of states including Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon and Washington.

Experts advise that if you spot a giant hogweed, do not try and remove it yourself. Contact your local or state department of control and report the sighting. States are working on efforts to remove and destroy the giant hogweed.

New York State has gone so far as to create a giant hogweed hotline at 845-256-3111 and asks that all residents call this number to report a sighting of the giant weed.

Crews throughout the reported states have been set up to locate and destroy these weeds. Large patches of the weeds require a large amount of herbicides while areas with smaller patches or singular plants can be destroyed by cutting the root system.

Just as residents living with poison ivy or poison oak have learned to identify the plants, experts recommend everyone in the affected states learn to identify these weeds and avoid coming into contact with them.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Genome editing with CRISPR-Cas9 prevents angiogenesis of the retina

July 24, 2017
A research team from the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear has successfully prevented mice from developing angiogenesis of the retina—the sensory tissue at the back of the eye—using gene-editing ...

Too little vitamin D may hinder recovery of injured corneas

July 24, 2017
Injury or disease in combination with too little vitamin D can be bad for the window to your eyes.

Combination of type 2 diabetes and sleep apnoea indicates eyesight loss within four years

July 4, 2017
Research led by the University of Birmingham has discovered that patients who suffer from both Type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnoea are at greater risk of developing a condition that leads to blindness within an average ...

Nearly 60% of pinkeye patients receive antibiotic eye drops, but they're seldom necessary

June 28, 2017
A new study suggests that most people with acute conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, are getting the wrong treatment.

Magnetic implants used to treat 'dancing eyes'

June 26, 2017
A research team has successfully used magnets implanted behind a person's eyes to treat nystagmus, a condition characterised by involuntary eye movements.

Drug shows promise against vision-robbing disease in seniors

June 21, 2017
An experimental drug is showing promise against an untreatable eye disease that blinds older adults—and intriguingly, it seems to work in patients who carry a particular gene flaw that fuels the damage to their vision.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.