Virginia authorities have confirmed the presence of a blindness-causing toxic weed in the state. It is the first time the plant is detected in Virginia, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced on Tuesday.
The agency added that the giant hogweed can be 15 foot-tall and can be easily mistaken for cow parsnip. The plant was spotted on a private property in Clarke County. A few weeks earlier, construction workers reported seeing the plant in Frederick County.
Authorities warn Virginians not to come into contact with the plant’s sap as they can get serious eye irritation, skin rash, blistering, and even blindness. The sap needs moisture and sunlight to develop its full toxicity.
— VDACS (@VaAgriculture) June 19, 2018
Nevertheless, nobody should panic, experts said. The plant in Clarke County did not arrive there naturally. It was reportedly planted by the former owner of the home where it was spotted. It is highly unlikely for the plant to spread on its own.
It’s a dangerous plant but I’m not overly concerned about it. This seems to be an isolated incident,
said Assistant Prof. Michael Flessner.
The giant hogweed is not native to the U.S. It stems from Asia and it was first spotted in the U.S. in 1917. It is common on the East Coast and a handful of other areas across the nation. The plant can be found especially in the New York state.
It was added by the Department of Agriculture to the list of plant pests. Individuals who believe that they have found giant hogweed are asked to notify authorities asap. Do not try to remove the plant with no protective equipment.
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