Flowers are easy to appreciate. They look beautiful, have amazing colors and designs, and often times have pleasant aromas too. However, there are some flowers that might be gorgeous, but should be avoided. One of those is the giant hogweed. It boasts white flowers that typically group together in an umbrella shape, however, it is also incredibly toxic and invasive - so much so that if you see one, you should call local officials to report it.
The plant can be found in many places, from your yard to your local park to forests and roadsides. Thankfully, it is usually easy to spot because it can grow very high - from seven to 14 feet tall. It also has a stem that is covered in purple splotches and coarse white hairs. The most common states where it's been seen are New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Vermont and Oregon, but it's been found elsewhere as well.
What is most important is that you never touch the plant - if you do you might suffer skin damage ranging from painful blisters to long-term scarring. The hogweed has a toxic chemical in its sap and if it gets on skin, it causes sensitivity to ultraviolet light which results in a bad reaction to the sun. Worse yet, even after any skin irritation clears up, the affected area could remain hypersensitive to the sun for years.
As if that weren't bad enough, if the sap gets in your eye, it can cause temporary vision loss and may even lead to permanent blindness.
If you do wind up coming into contact with one, immediately wash any areas affected with soap and water. According to Poison Control, to be safe, you should then avoid sunlight for 48 hours. For skin irritation, hydrocortisone cream should help, but if symptoms persist, you should see a doctor. If the sap gets in your eyes, rinse them with water for at least 15 minutes and wear sunglasses for the next couple days.
To raise awareness so people don't suffer from the consequences of touching giant hogweed, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation put out a poster to help identify the plant.
To remove the hogweed, officials will use herbicides and also cut the plant's roots to make sure it won't ever return.