Bizzare Plant That Causes 3rd Degree Burns And Blindness Has Been Discovered In Virginia

Date June 20, 2018 16:55

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a plant native to Southern Russia and Georgia. It also grows in the United States thanks to migration. Although it is somewhat attractive to look at and grows as tall as 10 ft in some cases, the plant is an invasive species. In addition, the sap of the plat is particularly dangerous and can cause severe burns.

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Just two days ago, officials in Virginia issue a statewide warning to residents that the plant had been found in the northern part of the state. According to a Facebook post by the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech, 30 giant hogweed plants were growing undisturbed in Clarke County, somewhere between Winchester and Leesburg.

A statement by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation warned of the potential danger residents face if they are exposed to the sap.

In brief, the sap prevents your skin from protecting itself from sunlight, which leads to a very bad sunburn. Heat and moisture (sweat or dew) can worsen the skin reaction. The phototoxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact, with sensitivity peak between 30 minutes and two hours after contact.

In addition, blindness may occur if eyes get in contact with the sap.

Officials at NYDEC have warned people against using weed whackers to try and eliminate the plants as the likelihood of splattering the sap is much higher. They suggest that plants be eliminated by physical removal or with the use of herbicides like glyphosate or triclopyr.

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Giant hogweed seedlings can remain viable in the soil for up to 15 years. To tackle the problem, the NYDEC said adequate attention should be given to sites where the plant is identified. This way, all remains can be adequately disposed of to forestall further growth in the area.

When dealing with hogweed, wear safety gear including gloves, boots and water-resistant clothing. It is also advisable wearing sunblock before tackling the plant as sunlight aggravates the reaction of the sap once it comes in contact with exposed skin.

Make sure all tools used to take down hogweed are washed properly to remove any remaining sap. If any body part comes in contact with sap, wash it immediately with cold water and keep away from sunlight for 48 hours. The same should be done if sap comes in contact with the eyes.

Also, see a doctor as soon as possible, especially if you begin experiencing reactions.

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