Warning: DO Not Touch this Plant

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Nearly everyone is familiar with the old adage, leaves of 3- let it be; but here is another considerably More serious plant that you should be aware of, because it’s spreading rapidly through the USA and may just be in your backyard…
warning-do-not-touch-this-plant

The plant is commonly known as Giant Hogweed, (Heracleum Mantegazzianum), but you might know it as cartwheel-flower, giant cow parsnip, cow parsley, hogsbane, wild parsnip or wild rhurbarb, but this plant is no friend. Be aware this plant is in the USA and IS spreading rapidly.

This surprisingly pretty plant is part of the carrot family and can grow a whopping 14 feet tall, sporting large clusters of
white flowers that appear much like an umbrella.

warning-do-not-touch-this-plant


What can it do?

Giant Hogweed sap contains photosensitizing furanocoumarins that cause a skin reaction when it comes into contact with light. This light sensitive reaction takes place with 48 hours causing nasty painful blisters that can result in scars lasting months to years. Touching the sap can cause long-term sunlight sensitivity as well as blindness if it comes into contact with ones eyes. It starts out bright red, much like a slap and develops into blisters.

warning-do-not-touch-this-plant

In addition, the burns can reoccur for up to 10 years any time the affected area is exposed to sunlight.

Photo Source Of the Little Girls Hands (Top Left) View Additional Photographs of the little girls hands here.

Luckily she was wearing a long sleeve shirt before she touched the plant, which is what caused the unique burn line.

What to do if you accidentally touch it

Immediately wash the area with COLD water, toxic reaction occurs in as little as 15 minutes. If you’re out hiking, etc and you’ve flushed the area, apply sunscreen to it to prevent further reactions with the sun. If at any point you think it may have gotten into your eye, flush the eye with cool water and put on sunglasses, seek emergency treatment.

Get RID of it

Do NOT Mow or weed-wack hogweed as you will spread the sap and that only creates NEW growth. Wear gloves and protective gear and pull the plant up by the roots (be aware ALL parts of the plant contain toxic sap) so if you’re not comfortable with this, consult a professional.
warning-do-not-touch-this-plant

Where is it From?

Originally this plant was found in the Caucasus Mountains (between the Black and Caspian seas), but it spread it’s way to the United States by the early part of the 20th century. The seeds are often spread by water and by bird droppings and can grow as long as 10 years after being deposited.

Right now the plants grows rampant in several states including Alaska (where we first encountered it), Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. However, it is spreading at a rapid rate.

The plant prefers moist soil, particularly in ditches and ravines in both sun and shade. The leaves are unevenly lobed, up to 5 feet wide and the flowers grow in umbrella-shaped clusters up to 2 feet across (flowering mid-June through early August). The stems are hollow, much like bamboo and have a 2″-4″ diameter with reddish-purple blotches.

Not Sure if the plant in your yard is Giant Hogweed, here is a Plant Identification card Provided by the State of Maine.

See MORE Hogweed Burn Photographs
If you would like to see additional Photographs of Hogweed burns on both people and pets, you can do so here.

Image Credit: WarterloocyclingClub
Direct Plant Photo Credit: Maine.Gov

About Liss 4017 Articles
Melissa Burnell, known to her friends and fans as "Liss," grew up in Southern Maine, now residing in sunny South Carolina. As a busy Wife, Mother of two sons, an avid photographer, and self-employed entrepreneur, Liss understands the value of both time and money.

24 Comments

  1. Phytophotodermatitis…… You can also get this from citrus fruits and a whole laundry list of other things. My daughter and her friends got it last year when they were juicing limes and lemons while camping.

    It can be very painful and cause skin discoloration.

  2. My sister lives in CT and she had one of these growing in her yard, when my brother in law cut it down, the sap got on his arm and he just rinsed it off with the garden hose. That didn’t fix it. The next day when he mowed the lawn, his arm blistered so bad he had to get a burn cream from urgent care.

    This is a very nasty plant. Be careful when handling it!!

  3. To the guy trying to buy it- Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is on the federal and Ohio noxious weed lists making it unlawful to propagate, sell or transport. It has been included on these lists because of its ability to crowd out native plants and because of its potential human health hazard.

  4. What a shame, it’s so pretty! Most people I know are scared of snakes or spiders, but I am TERRIFIED by poison plants! Is this what they call Queen Anne’s Lace?

    • What a shame, it’s so pretty! Most people I know are scared of snakes or spiders, but I am terrified by poison plants! is this what they call queen anne’s lace?

      i don’t think so. i have handled queen anne’s lace and never had any reaction.

    • What a shame, it’s so pretty! Most people I know are scared of snakes or spiders, but I am terrified by poison plants! is this what they call queen anne’s lace?

      that’s exactly what i thought as well.queen anne’s lace is not poisonous or i’d of gotten this rash. i used to pick it as a child. not sure if outs a different plant altogether.

    • What a shame, it’s so pretty! Most people I know are scared of snakes or spiders, but I am terrified by poison plants! is this what they call queen anne’s lace?

      it is not queen anne’ lace, which is actually a very friendly plant, also known as wild carrot.

    • What a shame, it’s so pretty! Most people I know are scared of snakes or spiders, but I am terrified by poison plants! is this what they call queen anne’s lace?

      it’s basically a giant version of queen anne’s, which is also considered to be a noxious weeds in michigan. thankfully that one doesn’t have any harmful sap. one main difference is how big the plants are …

      qal gets to be about 3′ tall, whereas GH can get well over 10′.

    • What a shame, it’s so pretty! Most people I know are scared of snakes or spiders, but I am terrified by poison plants! is this what they call queen anne’s lace?

      no . queen anne’s lace is much smaller .

    • What a shame, it’s so pretty! Most people I know are scared of snakes or spiders, but I am terrified by poison plants! is this what they call queen anne’s lace?

      no queen anne ‘ s lace is much smaller. this plant is huge.

    • What a shame, it’s so pretty! Most people I know are scared of snakes or spiders, but I am terrified by poison plants! is this what they call queen anne’s lace?

      i always think of queen anne’s lace when i see this story. they look so similar but are not the same. i’ve never seen this plant but i’d guess the difference is in the height.

    • What a shame, it’s so pretty! Most people I know are scared of snakes or spiders, but I am terrified by poison plants! is this what they call queen anne’s lace?

      that’s what i thought as well! but queen annes doesn’t get that big….

    • If it’s on clothes how do u clean the clothes?

      You wash them normally with laundry detergent.
      The oils are broken down by the detergent….and the agitation of the washing machine. The reason you can’t wash it off your skin is that the oils actually penetrate your pores.

    • Whoever put they wanted to buy seeds and plant it must be stupid and very ignorant.

      Either that or perhaps malicious. Creepy, huh?

    • ….or they want to keep uninvited guests out of their yard. In Arizona, people plant some of the most painful cacti they can find to keep people out.

    • Whoever put they wanted to buy seeds and plant it must be stupid and very ignorant.

      No far worse than just stupid. Stupid and a criminal. It’s illegal to grow or proogate in N America.

      It has even been considered for chemical warfare!!

  5. I’m confused because the Cow Parsnip is listed as an edible plant on Merriwether’s Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Texas and the Southwest. Only a brief warning about the hairs and juice irritating the skin.
    Cow Parsnip
    Scientific name: Heracleum maximum
    Abundance: rare
    What: young leaves, stem, roots, seeds
    How: leaves-raw/cooked; stem and roots-peel then boil; seeds-dry then add to soups and stews
    Where: shade, borders, woods, marsh
    When: spring, summer, fall
    Nutritional Value: sugars/calories in stem and roots
    Dangers: WARNING: Similar-looking to deadly, foul-smelling hemlock! Also, juice and hairs of cow parsnip can irritate skin and contains suspected cancer-causing chemicals.

    • I’m confused because the Cow Parsnip is listed as an edible plant on Merriwether’s Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Texas and the Southwest. Only a brief warning about the hairs and juice irritating the skin.
      Cow Parsnip
      Scientific name: Heracleum maximum
      Abundance: rare
      What: young leaves, stem, roots, seeds
      How: leaves-raw/cooked; stem and roots-peel then boil; seeds-dry then add to soups and stews
      Where: shade, borders, woods, marsh
      When: spring, summer, fall
      Nutritional Value: sugars/calories in stem and roots
      Dangers: WARNING: Similar-looking to deadly, foul-smelling hemlock! Also, juice and hairs of cow parsnip can irritate skin and contains suspected cancer-causing chemicals.

      That’s an ENTIRELY different Plant. Giant Hogweed is Heracleum mantegazzianum.

  6. If you do come in contact with it, wash affected area with Fels-Naptha laundry bar. I also go as far a rubbing bar on area and leaving on for awhile. Works like a charm.

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