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Giant Hogweed 'Horror Plant' Causes 3rd-Degree Burns, Blindness -- Spreads In Upstate NY

Updated on July 4, 2018

Giant Hogweed Called The "Horror Plant"

Giant Hogweed Plant
Giant Hogweed Plant | Source

Warning: Giant Hogweed Causing Third Degree Burns

The Giant Hogweed is an invasive species and it is spreading all over Upstate New York. Contact with this plant causes burns and blisters, along with permanent scarring and possibly blindness.

This is not a plant you should touch and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an alert on the Giant Hogweed plant, which could be in your backyard as you read this. According to, knowing how to identify the plant and keeping away from it is crucial.

Giant Hogweed Plant: Know How to Identify It

Giant Hogweed Plant
Giant Hogweed Plant | Source

Giant Hogweed: Learn to Identify the Plant

The most important thing to remember about this plant is DO NOT TOUCH IT. The DEC cannot stress enough how important it is to follow this one direction.

The most obvious feature of the Giant Hogweed plant is its height. It is a plant that grows 7 - 14 feet high and it has clusters of white flowers on the top which can grow as large as 2 and 1/2 feet in diameter.

The Giant Hogweed's Stem

Stem of Giant Hogweed
Stem of Giant Hogweed | Source

The Giant Hogweed Sap Is the Danger

The leaves of this plant are very large and they can grow up to 5 feet across. The hollow stem grows 2 - 4 inches in diameter and it contains splotches of purple as well as fine tiny hairs.

It doesn't look like a harmful flowering plant. With the flowering top cluster being so big, some might be enticed to use it as a cut flower, but don't. There is nothing enticing about this plant as it is dangerous and can cause major harm.

It is the sap of this plant that causes the burns and blisters. If that sap gets in your eye it could cause blindness.

Giant Hogweed Plant Sap Dangerous
Giant Hogweed Plant Sap Dangerous | Source

Giant Hogweed Solar Activated

The sun on these plants causes the sap to run, according to Scientific American. The toxins in the plant are activated by sunlight and the sun is shinning frequently during the hot summer months.

The plant, which is native to central Asia, was brought to New York City back in 1917 as a garden ornamental plant. Since this time wild populations have sprouted up. The sap works as a punishment to animals that are trying to eat it.

It is a way the plant fights for survival. The burns this sap brings on are "gruesome" for humans.

Giant Hogweed Plant Sap Causes Burns
Giant Hogweed Plant Sap Causes Burns | Source

Giant Hogweed Plant in 11 States Today

The DEC sent out an alert for Upstate New York about the dangers of this Giant Hogweed plant now that it is spreading. There are 11 other states that are seeing the Giant Hogweed invading their land as well.

NewYork, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, are the states that have the Giant Hogweed. The most recent state to discover the plant growing is Virginia.

Blisters on This Hand are Caused from the Sap of the Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed Dangers
Giant Hogweed Dangers

Graphic Burns and Blisters

The burns and blisters caused by this Giant Hogweed sap are hard to look at. The sap starts to burn almost instantly once contact is made.

The DEC is asking anyone who spots this dangerous plant to call their local Department of Environmental Conservation. In some states, it is called the Department of Environmental Protection. They will give you specific instructions on what to do.

These agencies are also tracking the locations of this plant as it spreads, so reporting it can help with this as well. Again, if you see the Giant Hogweed, keep people and pets away from this plant.


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    • FalconSays profile image

      Karen S Falcon 

      23 months ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Yikes! Good write up on a very scary plant of horrors.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      23 months ago from Houston, Texas

      That sounds like a plant that definitely needs to be eliminated before it keeps spreading. Thanks for alerting people about it!

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      Wow. So glad you have helped notify people by posting this information. I hope it is shared many times over.


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