Dangerous Burn-Causing Giant Hogweed Plant Removed From Seattle Yard

by | Jul 18, 2018 | Headline News | 24 comments

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    A dangerous plant and noxious weed (known as the giant hogweed) has been found and removed from a Seattle, Washington yard. The giant hogweed is known for its sap which causes third-degree burns and blisters and if it gets in the eyes, can cause blindness.

    King County noxious weed experts removed the dangerous giant hogweed plant from the yard Tuesday, according to a report from King 5. The plant’s stem was nearly an inch in diameter and the sap inside is highly poisonous. “Giant hogweed is an invasive plant that’s been brought over from Russia and it causes these horrible burns and blisters on your skin. It’s a really nasty sap that makes your skin hypersensitive to sunlight,” specialist Sasha Shaw said. “Plus it makes a million seeds. We put them in the bag right here, but otherwise, it would’ve spread over this whole area.”

    Crews in the noxious weed program are highly focused on the giant hogweed because of the dangers it presents to humans.

    How to spot the giant hogweed:

    The large plants have hollow stems that are generally 2 to 4 inches in diameter, with dark purple and red raised spots and bristle-like hairs.

    The flowering top of the plant has little white flowers in groups of 50-150 flower rays clustered into an umbrella-shaped flower up to 2.5 feet across.

    Environmental officials say that extreme caution should be taken should you attempt to remove a giant hogweed. (And based on the information available about this invasive plant, removal is a good idea.)  They caution to NOT use a weed-whacker because the plant’s sap can splatter and then spread quickly. Eradication should be done by physical removal or using herbicides such as glyphosate or triclopyr, according to the NYDEC.

    When removing the plant from a Seattle yard, the crew said they took extra care to ensure the plant won’t reproduce by spreading seeds and wore gloves so her skin wouldn’t blister and burn. “I wore gloves. I have long pants, long sleeved shirt. I just made sure I didn’t get any sap on my skin,” Karen Peterson added.

    Recently, a teenager in Virginia was hospitalized when his face began peeling after contact with the giant hogweed’s sap.  Alex Childress suffered severe third-degree burns while attempting to complete a landscaping job. Childress was taken to a hospital later that night and transferred to a burn unit. He was discharged last Thursday, but is likely still recovering.

    Health officials say that you should immediately wash your skin if you’ve come in contact with the plant, immediately flush eyes with water, and promptly seek medical attention.


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      1. I can see multiple uses for this plant.

        Wonder where seeds can be obtained?

        • plant-world-seeds.com

          Neither this lady nor the hogs seem to be going blind or getting burned. If this is endemic, or you plan to live with it, yes, it is useful to know that the sap cause photosensitivity.

          Where there was a teenage landscaper, supposedly burned to the bone, I am highly suspicious that he or the customer should have known something about notorious weeds, in their immediate surroundings.

          Duly noted.

        • Lol Anon,
          You want nothing to do with this weed.
          Believe it.

        • Thanks for the link.

          Per the information there, it seems that it isn’t the sap per se but the interaction of the sap and sun that cause the burns which then leave the affected area photo sensitive for quite a while. What a weird (and no good) plant…

          • From what I read it’s like poison ivy but with the added photosensitivity.

            I’m sure reactions vary across populations like poison ivy. My mother gets what looks like a burn scar from poison ivy that lasts for years before healing and I can roll in it with just a tickle.

      2. From Russia with love.

      3. Hog weed in Illinois we just play in it we know better out here in the sticks.

        City dweller need to leave and get some Fetchen-Up. This is like playing in poison Oak and Ivy. DUH!!!

      4. So this great article suggests spraying Round-Up. I don’t think so.

        How long does someone have to let their yard go until they have weeds this big?

        • Of you are letting it grow that tall, weeds are not your only problem.

        • Seems to grow only in wetter regions, fwiw.

        • That weed will grow to that size in just a few weeks

      5. Different food ingredients and medicines, etc, have become illegal, over the years, because of panics, like these.

        Is giant hogweed edible? Wild Curry Spices

        Wild edible plant: Common Hogweed!

        Stitched up like a football:

        imho, there are rules. Rules are knowable.

        Are these people passively brushing up, against it, without so much as breaking a leaf. Do they have an extreme sensitivity, to the tiniest amount. Or, are they really, really soaking it up.

      6. We have this plant up here it’s truly as nasty as the article says. the trouble with this weed is it looks identical to hemlock and a few other plants species.
        The county takes care of it right away along the ditches and rec areas. But you quite often see whitetail mule and moose scared up big patches of fur burned off. My suggestion if you suspect it call someone else. That sap will burn to the bone.

        • Angry Beaver knows the score. Poison Hemlock appears very similar except the leaves are more lacy. The sap of Giant Hogweed will cause what appears to be a chemical burn. It hurts like hell for weeks (my first experience with this plant was learned accidentally years back in Portland Oregon). In my case it left a brown scar across my skin that was visible for years. Now imagine if you have little kids playing tag running through this stuff having leaves and stems hit their faces. Blindness is a real possibility…..if you see some, just get rid of it as fast as you can or call the city or county extension agents or park folks so they can deal with it. Don’t take it lightly.

      7. There is a problem with it in Northern Va. too.

      8. Used wisely ,this is a good defensive or offensive weapon for SHTF.

      9. Anon’s first post was overlooked – but this could be a very useful defensive plant. A four foot wide swath of this stuff would be more effective than an electrified fence. If the plant juice was harvested, it would be a natural ‘pesticide’ for undesirable two legged pests. The main consideration in such use would be how long it maintained effectiveness under weather conditions. Otherwise, it could be injected into paintball shells.

        • Not at all. Giant Hogweed would do nothing for your defense: it’s easy to move though and if it’s cold out a fully clothed person would not be harmed in any way unless the sap got on their skin. Blackberrys are a common plant that grow well in sunlight and would form an actual defensive barrier AND provide sustenance to you as well. Ask my neighbor:-).

          • I’m talking about extracting oils from the dried out plant for sprays or burning it to make smoke.

            • Do NOT burn plants like Hogweed or Poison Ivy. What happens is they contain oils which are volatile and carried in the smoke. Everyone in your family could get chemical burns in their lungs. That is very bad as when lungs heal they form scar tissue which is more likely to acquire cancer. Scarred tissue does not form alveoli. You will lose lungcapacitu.

      10. Generally if you live in an agricultural zone, then if farmers and naturalists in your region reported it, then plants.usda.gov gets an entry into the database and that is cross-referenced with GPS data. So you coud run over to your local library and run a query.

        Wild edible experts and agriculture students and farmers know about this, but few citizens ever use it.

        It’s a valid way to find plant species…IF someone reported it which often is due to invasive species that pose harm like interfering with crop yields. Or naturalists monitoring foresty effects for various species due to insect infestation and plant disease.

      11. There you go something to know for gorilla warfare.

      12. Hogweed will grow bigger but 2nd year Queen Anne’s Lace ie wild carrot looks a little similar. Some people could make a mistake who collect that for flower arrangements.

        Queen Anne’s Lace smells like carrots. Hemlock smells like mouse urine. There are sites explaining how to look for the tiny purple flower within the cluster of white blossoms in Queen Anne’s Lace.

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