Danger - A Botanical Jurassic Park
What a beauty ! How about a 15-foot-tall bright-green-leafed plant with really hairy purple-colored four-inch thick stems, the leaves of which are three or more feet across, and with huge clusters of pristine white flowers heavy enough to wear out the arms of anyone foolish enough to try carrying them? More than likely you would take a moment to look for dinosaurs asleep in their shade.
Everything you feared to ask
The name of this marvel of a monster plant belies its beauty. Its name also does not do justice to its meanness, either. This behemoth among weedy flowers is called the Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) – truly a plant with a name almost as big as itself.
The Internet links that existed when this article was first written no longer seem to work. However, there are many references to Giant Hogweed on the Internet that tell you all about its good looks and bad ways. Here,I will tell you a thing or two about the plant and the problems it can provide for the innocents to whom the monster is, as yet, an unknown, but I do urge you to find out more about the plant. It is far worse than poison ivy, poison oak, and fire ants, all combined in a single exposure. Check out the booklet about the Giant Hogweed that is produced by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
Giant Hogweed may look pretty, but it is possessed of clear sap that is far from being pretty. Get this sap onto your skin and you are in for some real blistering. If you are then foolish enough to venture out into the sunshine while some of the sap is sitting on your exposed hide, get ready for some super blistering – like deep burns. If you get some sap in your eyes, you can be blinded. Don’t let the broad leaves, the brightly purple hairy stems, the super-wide leaves, or the monstrous flower clusters fool you. The Giant Hogweed is bad news for people.
I have copied some photos from that Michigan booklet for you to look at. I would tell you to "enjoy" the photos, but when you view them, do so with some serious thoughts coursing around upstairs. The Giant Hogweed is not enjoyable. It is a plant menace the seeds of which blow around in the wind such that you might find some of these mean-natured plants growing in your own garden or in your favorite fishing getaway. The things grow all over the United States, imported here from you-know-where.
The booklet was produced for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture. Neither wants you to propagate Giant Hogweed, so if you come upon any in your travels or in your yard, give someone a holler to help you get rid of it. Here’s a hotline for you to try: 1-800-292-3939.