GRANVILLE, Mass. (WWLP) – “Well the story is as I understand it, a garden group went on a field trip to somewhere in western Pennsylvania in the early 70’s and they brought it back thinking it was a high growing ornamental like sunflowers and they had no idea it was an invasive species and has the health risks that it does,” said Doug Roberts, the Granville Superintendent of Public Works.
Giant hogweed has white flowers with a thick stalk that can be up to 15 feet long. The town of Granville has been working to get rid of the plant over the last 12 years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture puts giant hogweed near the top of its Federal Noxious Weed list. It even ranks higher than poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac in respect to being a public health hazard.
It’s the sap in the giant hogweed that can be very dangerous.
“So if you get the fluids or the juice on you and then you’re exposed to the sun you get very severe blistering and scarring and it looks nothing like poison ivy it looks something like and industrial burn and it’s very, very severe,” said Doug Roberts.
And if you get it in your eyes it could result in blindness. If you do come into contact with the plant, especially the sap, you’re advised to wash the affected areas immediately, keep the exposed area out of direct sunlight and seek medical advice.
If you think you have giant hogweed on your property you should report it to the public health officials in your town to get it removed professionally.
Also hemlock is sometimes mistaken for giant hogweed but it’s much smaller.