Earlier this week, a couple from Rochester Hills reported that they thought they saw Giant Hogweed plants on The Paint Creek Trail. These plants are beautiful, but very dangerous if handled. Fox news reported that a woman in New York has gone blind from getting the sap in her eyes while attempting to transplant it. The couple called Dinosaur Hill and has inquired with others to find out if the plants spotted in Rochester are in fact these dangerous Giant Hogweed plants.
The thirdage.com website explains that the “Giant Hogweed is a kind of plant with flowers the size of umbrellas and sap that causes blisters and blindness.”
Heracleum mangtegazzianum is the Latin name for the plant. It lives up to its name, growing from eight to 15 feet high and is native to the Caucasus Mountains of Central Asia.
The Department of Agriculture suggests that the plant originally came to the United States as an ornamental plant. Spices obtained from the plant are used in some Iranian food dishes as well.
Considered a noxious weed by the federal government, Giant Hogweed produces a sap that, when exposed to sunlight, can cause large, painful blisters and dark scars on the skin, and blindness if it gets into the eyes. Contact with leaves and stems can also result in exposure to the sap, so the plant should be handled as one would handle poison ivy.
Giant Hogweed has a long tap root that allows it to survive even after being cut down. The danger of the sap and the difficulty of removing it permanently make it difficult for homeowners to deal with Giant Hogweed.”
As a follow-up to this article, Oakland Township ruled out the possibility of Giant Hogweed. See here http://www.rochestermedia.com/oakland-township-rules-out-giant-hogweed/