Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Associated Press
NORTHPORT, Maine — Officials in a Maine town are warning residents to be on the lookout for a noxious plant that can cause painful blisters or even blindness if it comes into contact with skin or eyes.
This photo shows a giant hogweed plant in New York state. The dangerous plant has begun to appear in Maine.
Photo courtesy of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a Federally listed noxious weed. Its sap, in combination with moisture and sunlight, can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness. Contact between the skin and the sap of this plant occurs either through brushing against the bristles on the stem or breaking the stem or leaves.
This plant poses a serious health threat; see your physician if you think you have been burned by giant hogweed. If you think you have giant hogweed on your property, do NOT touch it.
Giant hogweed is a biennial or perennial herb in the carrot family (Apiaceae) which can grow to 12 feet or more. Its hollow, ridged stems grow 2-4 inches in diameter and have dark reddish-purple blotches. Its large compound leaves can grow up to 5 feet wide. It's white flower heads can grow up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter. Please refer to the Giant Hogweed Identification page for further help.
Information courtesy of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Last summer, Northport identified and eliminated two giant hogweeds that set down roots. Now residents are on alert for the giant plant with small white flowers.
Native to Asia, the weed can grow to 14 feet tall and the sap causes blisters and the potential for blindness if it comes into contact with the eye.
The Bangor Daily News says the danger is real enough that the Maine Department of Agriculture alerted Waldo County General Hospital last summer. Last year, the department documented at least 20 sites in Maine with giant hogweed.