Until recently, there were no confirmed cases of giant hogweed in Virginia, according to officials. If the Virginia Cooperative Extension confirms it is hogweed, you are urged to report it to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The plant can grow up to 14-feet tall with large bunches of white flowers at the top, so despite it's beauty, don't touch it or attempt to take selfies with it.
Corey Childs, an extension agent in the northern Shenandoah Valley housed in Warren County, visited the Clarke County site Monday to collect Giant Hogweed samples for the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech.
"The sap contains chemicals that are activated by sunlight", Metzgar said.
When sap from the giant hogweed combines with moisture and sunlight, it can cause severe skin and eye irritation. You're unlikely to find any more hogweed in Virginia, an updated Facebook post from the Herbarium said Wednesday.
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While the environmental impact is certainly concerning, the giant hogweed is unsafe in other ways. You could also soak a compress in a mixture of aluminum acetate, which is available at most pharmacies, if you think you've come into contact with the hogweed.
Giant hogweed is native to Southwest Asia, he said, and was first seen in the United States in 1917, when it was brought in for ornamental reasons.
The Giant Hogweed that was identified in Clarke County last week was believed to have been planted intentionally decades ago, and hasn't spread since. And if the sap gets in your eyes, rinse them out as soon as you can, put on sunglasses and call your doctor. The hazardous plant lives 3 to 5 years and is especially hardy, meaning it can grow just about anywhere and is especially hard to remove. Metzgar says these plants are not highly proliferous as evidenced by the fact these have been there since then and have not been found anywhere else.