Quantcast

Invasive, Blinding Weed Spreads to Virginia

Health + Wellness
70023venus2009 / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

An invasive plant species whose sap can cause burns and blindness has spread to Virginia, CBS News reported Monday.


Giant hogweed looks similar to common, harmless summer wildflowers like cow parsnip and Queen Anne's lace. But it can grow to be 14 feet tall and its sap contains photosensitizing furanocoumarins that make any skin they comes in contact with more sensitive to sunburn, sometimes on a long-term basis. The sap can also cause severe blisters on the skin and blindness if it enters the eye.

The first plants spotted in Virginia were identified by scientists at Virginia Tech's Massey Herbarium in Clarke County last week.

"Today I helped ID VA's first giant hogweed population! Its sap causes severe burns. One plant was found in Clarke County. Report sightings to your extension agent!" a researcher posted on Facebook.

Researchers have identified 30 plants in the area.

Giant hogweed is native to the Caucasus mountains and southwest Asia. It was first brought to the U.S. as an ornamental plant in 1917, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition to harming any human unlucky enough to interact with it, it also crowds out native species and has been categorized as a Noxious Weed under the Plant Protection Act.

In addition to Virginia, it also grows in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Oregon and Washington, according to CBS.

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) advises anyone who comes in contact with the plant to move out of the sun and wash off the impacted area with cold water. If you cannot get indoors, apply sunscreen. The reaction usually begins 15 minutes after contact. A compress soaked in aluminum acetate can also soothe the burns.

If the sap gets in your eyes, you should rinse them with cold water, wear sunglasses and seek medical attention.

Giant hogweed is also very difficult to get rid of, but you have to be careful of how you dispose of it because of the dangers posed by its sap.

"Do not mow, cut or weed whack the plant, as it will just send up new growth and put you at risk for being exposed to sap—the same kind of thing that would happen with poison ivy or sumac," the New York State DOH advises.

To effectively remove it, you have to cut plant roots, remove seed heads, mow the plants when small or use extensive amounts of herbicide, but you must wear protective gear while doing so, according to Science Alert. The New York State DOH recommends getting professional help.

Giant hogweed can be distinguished from similar-looking cow parsnip by its overall size and the size and steep incline of its leaves, which can be five feet across. In addition, its flowers are umbrella-shaped, not flat, and its stems have purple splotches, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation explains.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Micromobility is the future of transportation in cities, but cities and investors need to plan ahead to avoid challenges. Jonny Kennaugh / Unsplash

By Carlo Ratti, Ida Auken

On the window of a bike shop in Copenhagen, a sign reads: Your next car is a bike.

Read More Show Less
An American flag waves in the wind at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, California on May 17 where a trial against Monsanto took place. Alva and Alberta Pilliod, were awarded more than $2 billion in damages in their lawsuit against Monsanto, though the judge in the case lowered the damage award to $87 million. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

For the last five years, Chris Stevick has helped his wife Elaine in her battle against a vicious type of cancer that the couple believes was caused by Elaine's repeated use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide around a California property the couple owned. Now the roles are reversed as Elaine must help Chris face his own cancer.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Butterfly habitats have fallen 77 percent in the last 50 years. Pixabay / Pexels

The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Six of the nineteen wind turbines which were installed on Frodsham Marsh, near the coal-powered Fiddler's Ferry power station, in Helsby, England on Feb. 7, 2017.

Sales of electric cars are surging and the world is generating more and more power from renewable sources, but it is not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to stop the global climate crisis, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Read More Show Less
"Globally, we're starting to see examples of retailers moving away from plastics and throwaway packaging, but not at the urgency and scale needed to address this crisis." Greenpeace

By Jake Johnson

A Greenpeace report released Tuesday uses a hypothetical "Smart Supermarket" that has done away with environmentally damaging single-use plastics to outline a possible future in which the world's oceans and communities are free of bags, bottles, packaging and other harmful plastic pollutants.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Children are forced to wear masks due to the toxic smoke from peat land fires in Indonesia. Aulia Erlangga / CIFOR

By Irene Banos Ruiz

Pediatricians in New Delhi, India, say children's lungs are no longer pink, but black.

Our warming planet is already impacting the health of the world's children and will shape the future of an entire generation if we fail to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6°F), the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report on health and climate change shows.

Read More Show Less
Private homes surround a 20 inch gas liquids pipeline which is part of the Mariner East II project on Oct. 5, 2017 in Marchwood, Penn. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

The FBI is looking into how the state of Pennsylvania granted permits for a controversial natural gas pipeline as part of a corruption investigation, the AP reports.

Read More Show Less
Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles. Carolina Wild Ones / Facebook

Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less