[WATCH] Officials are warning people to stay away from this plant…


But you should never touch them. Their sap, when combined with moisture and sunlight, can severely irritate your eyes and skin, cause large blisters and leave behind scarring that lasts for months.

Giant hogweed plants are an intriguing sight when you find them in the woods, not least because they can grow up to 18 feet tall or even higher.

But you should never touch them. Their sap, when combined with moisture and sunlight, can severely irritate your eyes and skin, cause large blisters and leave behind scarring that lasts for months.

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That’s what happened to 10-year-old Lauren Fuller, who was on a fishing trip with her father earlier this year when she picked up a piece of giant hogwood on the ground. Within a day, she experienced “bright red burns on her hands and cheeks, but when her parents took her to the hospital, they were told it was just a sunburn.”

The rest of her story is told in this video from YouTube:



Several reports of children suffering severe burns and blisters from giant hogweed plants have surfaced in the news in recent weeks, both here in the U.S. as well as in the U.K. Here’s how to spot the plant, and what to do if you find that you’ve brushed up against one or touched it with your hands:

What is giant hogweed and what does it look like?

Giant hogweed is a noxious weed that can grow well over a dozen feet high, with rigid stems that stretch about 2 to 4 inches across and feature dark, reddish-purple spots. The plant’s leaves can grow up to 5 feet wide, while its white flower heads can get as big as 2 1/2 feet in diameter, notes the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

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The photo at right illustrates what giant hogweeds look like in the wild. They do look very similar to other plants found in forests and gardens, however, so the New York Environmental Conservation Department has provided this list of tips for identifying giant hogweeds on your own.

Where is it found?

Native to Asia, giant hogweed was introduced to Europe and the British Isles in the 19th century as an ornamental plant, and later in the 20th century made its way to the U.S. and Canada, where it is now a common sight along riverbanks, forest paths and meadows in many countries.

Generally, you’ll find the plant where there is plenty of open space with abundant sunlight and moist soil, “but it can grow in partially shaded habitats too,” the New York Environmental Conservation Department notes.

What happens if you come in contact with it?

As Wikipedia notes, “the sap of giant hogweed causes phytophotodermatitis in humans, resulting in blisters, long-lasting scars, and—if it comes in contact with eyes—blindness. These serious reactions are due to the furocoumarin derivatives in the leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds of the plant.”

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If you do happen to touch it or allow it to brush against your skin, here’s the recommended treatment:

“Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and keep the area away from sunlight for 48 hours. 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,” according to the New York Environmental Conservation Department.

That, of course, explains why health and environmental agencies issue such urgent warnings against it — even brushing by the plant is enough release its sap, which can cause serious burns to your skin within 24 hours.

And if it gets in your eyes, it can cause temporary or even permanent blindness, the Independent points out — so never touch your eyes if you discover you’ve come in contact with giant hogweed.

 

 

Read more helpful tips from: weather.com





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