You just can’t beat the feeling of taking a nice walk and enjoying all the beauty nature has to offer when the weather’s nice outside. Springtime is just the perfect time for doing this. It’s right before the cold winter months and just before the hot summer season. And in a lot of people’s opinion, it’s when the weather’s most-perfect for activities such as picnics. But if you enjoy taking nice walks out in nature, it helps to be aware of some of the dangers that might not be evident to the untrained eye. One such danger is a plant that grows in the wild, and health officials are now warning that it is a huge risk for anyone who comes into physical contact with it.
The plant is the Giant Hogweed or Heracleum mantegazzianum. This plant has grown in various locations for quite some time now, but now it seems to be spreading very fast. As it continues to appear in new areas, the danger grows because many people won’t be familiar with this plant and what it is capable of doing. All you have to do is touch the sap just once, and it can cause serious burns as well as the potential for permanent blindness.
Giant Hogweed has many other names. Some of the more common names include giant cow parsley, cartwheel flower, giant cow parsnip, and hogsbane. However, regardless of what name you call it by, it is incredibly dangerous.
In the United States, the plant is now reportedly growing in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Maryland, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. The plant can grow up to 14 feet high, and the dark leaves can grow up to 5 feet in diameter.
The hollow stem is thick and is covered in white hairs with purple dots and specks. They’re also beautiful white flowers on top, but don’t let their beauty fool you.
While it may be tempting to pick these flowers, the plant’s sap contains a dangerous chemical, Photosynthesizing furanocoumarins. This chemical makes the sap extremely photosensitive, so if it comes into contact with your skin, it can cause severe burns.
The burns can produce painful blisters that may start to show within 48 hours. Even worse, the scars left from these burns can last up to six years!
But perhaps the worse part is that if the sap gets in your eyes, it could cause permanent blindness.
Should your skin come into contact with the sap, wash the area with cold water as soon as possible and be sure to get out of the sun as it will cause the chemical to burn even more.
If you are unable to get inside, apply sunscreen to the affected area and pick up an aluminum acetate mixture at your local pharmacy as soon as you can. That may give you some relief from skin irritation
If the sap gets in your eyes, immediately rinse them with water and put on a pair of sunglasses. You may want to visit a hospital or your doctor to properly assess any damage to your eyes.
You can learn more about the dangers of this weed and how to better identify it by watching the video below.
Please be sure to share this story with your friends and family and be safe.