Most of us have heard of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. These plants can cause brutally itchy rashes and even swelling.
In Canada and parts of the U.S, we are doing battle with another pesky invasive species: Giant Hogweed. Giant Hogweed is a tall and imposing plant that can grow up to 10 to 15 feet tall. The tall stem and underside of the leaves have small hairs on them that put off a watery sap. If this sap comes into contact with human skin, it is extremely dangerous.
Hogweed causes a “phototoxic” reaction. The sap essentially eliminates the ability of human skin to protect itself from the sun. The skin is stripped of its natural protection and this can lead to a third-degree burn if the affected person is exposed to any sun. Any significant exposure to sun can cause extreme burns to the skin. Terrifying.
The plant grows so fast that mitigation is difficult. If you catch a Giant Hogweed early, you can simply dig out the roots and the plant dies. If it reaches its full height, it is quite dangerous as the removal becomes far more difficult.
Exercise caution around Giant Hogweed, your skin will thank you.