What is it and where can we find it?
Giant Hogweed is an invasive plant that resembles cow parsnip, but can grow up to five meters (15 ft.) tall. The large, hollow, central stalk is green with purple spots. The dark green, coarsely-toothed leaves are divided into three segments. Small white flowers grow in a large, flat-top, umbrella-like cluster, which can measure up to one meter across. An individual Giant Hogweed plant can produce 50,000 seeds. Giant Hogweed thrives in wet areas near streams, but is also commonly found along roadsides, right-of-ways, ditch-lines, and vacant lots.
Giant Hogweed is very dangerous when it comes in contact with skin. The watery sap reacts with sunlight and may cause severe burns, blistering, and scarring. Sap contacting eyes can cause temporary or even permanent blindness. Children may be particularly attracted to the plant, and should be discouraged from playing in areas where this plant may be present.