A large plant known as Hogweed that is growing in the New England states that can cause disfiguring scars and permanent blindness if touched
“Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a Federally listed noxious weed. Its sap, in combination with moisture and sunlight, can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness. Contact between the skin and the sap of this plant occurs either through brushing against the bristles on the stem or breaking the stem or leaves.
What to do if you come in contact with giant hogweed:
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. Please refer to our Health Hazards & Safety Instructions for Giant Hogweed for more information.
How do you identify giant hogweed?
Giant hogweed is a biennial or perennial herb in the carrot family (Apiaceae) which can grow to 14 feet or more. Its hollow, ridged stems grow 2-4 inches in diameter and have dark reddish-purple blotches. Its large compound leaves can grow up to 5 feet wide. Its white flower heads can grow up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter. Please refer to the Giant Hogweed Identification page for further help. Some other plants look very similar.
What to do if you see giant hogweed:
First: Use the key on our giant hogweed identification page to try and make a positive identification. Other plants that look similar are also shown.
Second: Photos are needed to confirm identification. Take high resolution photos of the entire plant, stem, leaves, flowers and seeds, making sure to keep a safe distance.
Third: Email DEC: [email protected] or call the Giant Hogweed Hotline: 1-845-256-3111. Provide photos, detailed directions to the plant infestation and estimate the number of plants.
Fourth: If it is giant hogweed and it is on your property, DEC will contact you and may visit to assess the site and discuss management options, as resources allow.”