What Is Hogweed, the Invading Plant That Burns and Blinds?
The striking plant was brought to North America to decorate gardens and arboretums, but now officials are working to wipe it out.
If you see it growing in your garden, don't touch it.
The 15-foot-tall invasive plant locally known as hogweed (Heracleum mantagazzianum) was recently spotted for the first time in Virginia. Experts and locals are on high alert because the notorious plant produces a dangerous, clear sap that can cause third-degree burns, severe blisters, and permanent blindness.
The plant has previously been identified in more northern regions in Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and the northeastern U.S., and now officials in Virginia are monitoring the region to see if it takes hold there, too.
The plant's dangers didn't stop enthusiastic gardeners from bringing it to North America over a century ago. Before it was classified as a noxious weed in several states,