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Giant hogweed weakens UV protection

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Sun Protection for Body
July 12, 2011 Reviewed by Sunil 5 Comments
Last week I began hearing these horror stories of a plant that grows 15 feet high with flowers the size of umbrellas that ooze a toxic sap. I shrugged it off as some type of marketing campaign from the makers of Harry Potter, mainly because the name of said plant is hogweed.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. Hogweed is very real and has been spreading.

So far the plant has been sprouting up around Western and Central New York so far and park officials have their work cut out for them, locating and eradicating the weed. Normally weeds can grow wild in New York with little or no issue but the hogweed has proved to be toxic as you can see from the image.

Just brushing up against hogweed’s bristles on the stem or by touching a broken stem or leaf could cause a painful outcome for you. The plant’s sap contains a nasty substance called psoralen which makes your skin photosensitive. Once exposed to the sun you can develop severe burns, blistering, painful sores and purplish or blackened scars. The scariest part however may be that if the sap gets into your eyes, you could go blind. A very real possibility since the plant is 15 feet high.

With your UV defenses down, the chances of getting skin cancer dramatically increase. If you do some in contact with this plant seek medical treatment and avoid exposure to the sun. Take a look at the plant below and if you see it, call your local parks department to remove it. You can find more information on hogweed at the DEC website. And you should also check out our Five Best safe sunscreen picks.

  • August 1, 2011

    by Cathy Collomy

    It is confirmed in 21 places here in Maine also!

  • July 17, 2011

    by Jana

    Jeni - The plant is not all that far from NYC and CT. I'm currently in CT and we've been hearing the same reports about it. Although it seems to be most prevalent in Western and Central NY, the plant has been found in Putnam and Nassau Counties, too, as well as in other states. Putnam County is in eastern NY state bordering CT. Nassau County is in Long Island. The DEC link Sunil provided has a map of where the plant has been found: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/41952.html

    Thanks, Sunil, for this timely info!

  • July 14, 2011

    by Jeni

    Holy crap, that's crazy! I will add this to my list of things to worry about, although I don't go to Western or Central NY (just NYC and CT). That's weird that hogweed would only be in one part of one state!

  • July 12, 2011

    by JustD

    WOW! Just when you thought it was safe to go out and embrace nature... A bit scary! Great info and at a great time, my son-in-law and granddaughter are heading up to central New York for a week...this couldn't have been written at a better time. Thanks for the great info and photos!

  • July 12, 2011

    by Rae

    Oh my. Those blisters look nasty--that guy sure is audacious.

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