A noxious, alien and invasive plant that looks like Queen Anne's lace on steroids - giant hogweed - is causing some concerns after being found in multiple states, including Maryland. Giant hogweed was recently spotted in Virginia for the first time and may also grow in other states.
So far, there has been just one confirmed sighting of Giant Hogweed - in Clarke County, Virginia, but the unsafe plant also grows in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and ME, according to CBS. The plant can be confused with cow parsnip, which is native to Virginia.
An American university says an enormous plant, which causes horrific blisters, could have the potential to blind people. This condition makes the skin highly sensitive to ultraviolet light.
Coming into contact with hogweed can be a traumatic experience. After a burn, skin can be especially sensitive to sun exposure for several years.
The invasive plants also pose an ecological threat, forming tall, dense, and deeply shaded stands that push back the growth of native species.
To learn about the identification of giant hogweed and compare it to common look-alikes, check out the NYDEC site here. Warnings have been issued in previous years after discoveries in Michigan, New York and elsewhere in the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Northwest. The invasive plant arrived in North America in the mid-19th century.
The photos posted at bottom of this story depicting burns from giant hogweed are graphic in nature.
Any who discovers the weed is advised not to touch it.
Apply sunscreen to the affected areas if you have some at your disposal. Compresses soaked in an aluminum acetate mixture - available at pharmacies - can provide relief for skin irritations. If hogweed sap gets into the eye, rinse with water immediately and put on sunglasses.
If you experience severe reactions, visit a doctor immediately.
The giant hogweed plant itself (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is technically a biennial or perennial herb in the carrot family.
Giant hogweed also produces thousands of dry, flat, oval seeds, which are about 3/8 of an inch long and have brown lines on them.
There has been reports of giant hogweed in Australia with the plant collected in Adelaide in 2007, according to the Department of Environment and Energy. Then, you should wash the exposed area with soap and water.