This plant is causing third-degree burns and making Virginia residents blind!!!

This plant is causing third-degree burns and making Virginia residents blind!!!

A noxious, alien and invasive plant that looks like Queen Anne's lace on steroids - giant hogweed - is causing some concerns after being found in multiple states, including Pennsylvania. And it's at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley.

"This weed is not something to play around with", said Andrea Davis, Virginia Cooperative Extension Horticulture agent in Virginia Beach.

The giant hogweed plant itself (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is technically a biennial or perennial herb in the carrot family. And the invasive species, which can grow to 20 feet tall with leaves that are five feet across, has reportedly been found in Virginia for the first time.

Meanwhile, researchers at the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech last week said that the weed, which originated in Asia, had been seen in Clarke County, in the far north of the state, reported another Richmond TV station, WTVR.

Giant hogweed had previously been reported in Michigan, New York, Ohio and places in the Northwest, Midwest and Pacific Northwest.

The plant spreads by birds and waterways carrying its seeds, which can grow for 10 years when they find soil.

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"Giant Hogweed" sounds like a mythical plant that the students of Hogwarts may study, but it's real - and it's unsafe. When these chemicals come into contact with human skin, it can cause a reaction that makes skin extremely sensitive to light. Symptoms include painful blisters, which become darkly pigmented and can cause scars.

If you or someone you know brushes against one of these plants, experts recommend immediately washing the affected area with soap and cold water and keeping that skin out of the sun for at least 48 hours (the reaction can begin within 15 minutes of exposure). Call your health care provider in case of a severe reaction.

On the website of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Environmental Conservation has issues notice in which it has asked all the residents of the area to be cautious about the plant and said, " Do Not Touch this Plant". A towel or compress soaked in aluminum acetate, which you can purchase from pharmacies, provides temporary relief for skin irritations. If the sap gets into anyone's eyes, there is the potential for blindness.

Virginia Cooperative Extension officials believe a previous landowner planted the hogweed that has been found east of Berryville.

The latest confirmed sighting of giant hogweed came in Clarke County, Virginia.

He said his office at 107 N. Kent St.in Winchester has been getting a lot of calls with people misidentifying smaller native plants such as cow parsnip with giant hogweed.

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