Share this article:
You may have never heard of it before, but a not-so-new type of weed has again infested parts of Canada - and it can be very dangerous.
Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantagazzianum) has been known to cause rashes, burns and, in some very extreme cases, blindness to those who are unfortunate enough to come in contact with the plant.
Hogweed is a perennial, meaning that each spring it comes back and starts to bloom. It can get very tall, over 15 feet in the right conditions.
According to the New York Department of Health, it is very possible for hogweed to be mistaken as wild parsnip, which also can cause burns.
Hogweed is very distinct looking and is actually part of the carrot family. It has thick leaves that can stretch up to 5 feet wide as well as large clusters of white flowers at the top of the plant that form an almost umbrellalike pattern. The plant's stems are usually green with purple spots and white hairs coming off them.
Poison ivy, oak and sumac: How to identify these plants, treat itchy rashes after exposure
Invasive aquatic species in US wreak havoc on ecosystems, cost hundreds of millions of dollars
Q and A: What you need to know about stinging insects this summer
10 myths about mosquitoes debunked by experts
Do you know which beach flags mean dangerous swimming conditions?
It should be noted, however, that hogweed is not localized to Canada even though that is where it is most prevalent. According to National Geographic, the dangerous plant was spotted for the first time in Virginia. It also appears often in parts of the Pacific Northwest as well as the northeastern United States.
Experts say it is best to avoid the plant at all costs. However, brushing up against it will not necessary lead to a severe reaction. The plant's sap contains a chemical, that when mixed with sunlight, causes a reaction on the skin. Blindness can occur if the sap gets in your eyes, however.
The best thing you can do if you come in contact with giant hogweed and its sap is to wash the area that came in contact with the plant thoroughly with soap and water. On top of that, if you come in contact, do all you can to avoid sunlight for at least two days.
If burns become worse, you should see your doctor as soon as you can.
According to the New York State Department of Health, if you must remove hogweed, the best way to do it is contact a professional plant control specialists and not to do it yourself. However, if you must touch the plant, wear disposable rubber gloves, a long-sleeve shirt and pants. If you happen to get sap on your clothing, remove them carefully avoiding contact with your eyes and skin. Wash the clothes separately from other laundry with warm water and detergent.
For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.
Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
Some relief is on the way to the hard-hit Indian state of Kerala, where the death toll from incessant monsoon downpours has exceeded 320.
Residents of western Japan are being put on alert for strengthening Typhoon Soulik to pose serious threats to lives and property Tuesday into Wednesday. Dangers may also spread to South Korea.
In the distant footsteps of Hurricane Hector, Major Hurricane Lane is forecast to take a similar path just south of the Big Island of Hawaii next week.
Residents across parts of the United Kingdom will want to keep wellies and brollies handy as Ernesto sweeps rain through this weekend.
Wet weather continued to wreak havoc across parts of the northeastern United States this week while a major bridge collapse killed dozens amid severe storms in Italy.
Autumn will feel like a continuation of summer across much of Germany as above-normal temperatures prevail well into October.
After a warmer-than-normal summer for much of the United Kingdom, mild air will continue into the autumn season.
Despite weakening, Rumbia will continue to plague eastern China with flooding rain into early next week.