The Department of Environmental Conservation is issuing a warning against a toxic invasive plant that has been found in New York.
It sounds like a bio-horror film: Giant Hogweed, a invasive plant that can grow taller than a human, with flowers the size of umbrellas and a sap that can cause blisters, burns, and blindness. When approached, the plant has been heard to rumble “Feed me, Seymour!!”
Well, that last part isn’t true, but the size and the danger are not made up. When untreated, Giant Hogweed can grow to great height and contact with its sap, when exposed to moisture and heat, can cause exceedingly high skin sensitivity.
However, the outbreak is far from deserving any “horror”. Once identified, the plant can easily be cleared away. Contact the DEC, and they will come to inspect the plant and remove it if needed.
The DEC have teams and herbicides specific for eliminating these threatening plants, and have already removed three outbreaks in Averill Park, Albany and Washington Counties.
Giant Hogweed resemble plants like Cow Parsnip and Queen Anne’s Lace. They have large leaves and broad white flowers that grow in clusters, with 50-150 “rays” per cluster (picture the white seeds of a dandelion, but with only the top half covered).
For more help in identifying Giant Hogweed, you can visit the DEC’s photos on their identification page.
If you think you see a Giant Hogweed, DO NOT TOUCH. You can contact the Giant Hogweed Hotline at 845-256-3111 if you are suspicious of any plant. Verbal descriptions and digital photos are encouraged and very helpful in identifying the flora.
Hogweed can be confused with other plant varieties, but the most telling feature are purple splotches and white coarse hairs on the stem which are often bunched at the base of each leaf’s stem.
Still, if there is any doubt, always remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry, always. Excersize caution and contact the DEC with any concerns, either at the hotline above, the Warrensburg General Info number (518) 623-1200, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org