Toxic Plant That Can Cause Blindness Found In Maryland

Maricruz Casares
Junio 20, 2018

According to reports from the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech, around 30 of these monstrous plants were identified in Clarke County, Virginia on Tuesday last week. She wrote while the US Department of Agriculture's plants database said no species of the plant have been detected in Virginia, sources suggest otherwise.

"Until recently there have been no confirmed cases of Giant Hogweed in the Commonwealth of Virginia".

What to do if you touch a giant hogweed plant?

Of course, going anywhere near a giant hogweed requires protective gear. It is reportedly dormant during the winter, and its flowers form in late spring through mid summer.

Giant hogweed originates from the Caucasus Mountains between the Black and Caspian seas by Russian Federation - but it made its way to the the early 20th century. It can be found across counties in New York, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland and other northern areas. "The stems [of the giant hogweed] are covered with more coarse white hairs and have a lot of purple spots".

Giant hogweed also produces thousands of dry, flat, oval seeds, which are about 3/8 of an inch long and have brown lines on them.

According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) identification guide, the plant tends to be between seven and 14 feet tall, with clusters of 50 to 150 flowers that spread as far as two and half feet across.

Giant hogweed facts
Toxic Plant That Can Cause Blindness Found In Maryland

Experts said the plant has a toxic sap that can cause severe health hazards.

Since the affected area may be sensitive to sunlight for a few years, it may be necessary to apply sunblock or to keep the affected area covered when going out in the sun. Scars from the burns can last for years, and the reaction can cause blindness if sap gets in a person's eye. Avoid contact with sunlight for 48 hours.

If a reaction occurs, topical steroids applied early can reduce its severity and ease discomfort.

"In brief, the sap prevents your skin from protecting itself from sunlight, which leads to a very bad sunburn", according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. If hogweed sap gets into the eye, rinse with water immediately and put on sunglasses.

The site advises to "call your healthcare provider for any severe reactions or if sap has gotten into your eyes". Always call professional authorities to properly dispose of these plants with herbicides or other methods. What's more, during winter months, the soil under the giant hogweed becomes bare and erodes more readily.

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