What you should know about toxic invasive plant just found in Va.

Science								Image Source debs-eye

"There is a strong possibility that the Giant Hogweed could find it's way into the Tidewater/Coastal Virginia area", the page warns. Although the plant looks very pretty and 14 feet tall, it risky.

"The sap contains chemicals that are activated by sunlight", Metzgar said.

Giant hogweed seeds are dispersed across short distances by the wind, but they can make it further if they are accidentally transported in soil. Furthermore, there are no documented incidents of the hogweed causing permanent blindness, though its capacity to do so is generally undisputed. The white flowers on top look a little bit like Queen Anne's Lace, and sit kind of like an umbrella over the rest of the plant.

"Remember that giant hogweed is very similar to the widespread species cow parsnip", which is native to Virginia, the Massey Herbarium said on Facebook. Flessner worked with Jordan Metzgar, curator of the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech, and Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent Mark Sutphin to identify the plant last week.

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By the mid-1900s, scientists recognized the toxicity of giant hogweed sap, but the weed had already taken root across the Atlantic. A toxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact.

Compressed soaked in an aluminum acetate mixture that is available at pharmacy provide relief form skin irritation. Warnings have been issued in previous years after discoveries in Michigan, New York and elsewhere in the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Officials worry the plant is spreading. If you must touch giant hogweed, wear disposable rubber gloves, a long-sleeved shirt and trousers.

In any case, if the toxic hogweed sap comes in contact with eyes then one should rinse the eye with cold water and put on sunglasses. Giant hogweed is fast-growing and is known to invade roadsides, the edges of forests and empty lots, the AP said.

Individuals who think they may have discovered giant hogweed, which is part of the United States Department of Agriculture's noxious weeds list, should notify local environmental authorities, who can remove the pests using protective gear.

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