Watch for Plant That Can Cause Burns, Blindness When in the Forest

Courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR.

MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – A plant that has been known to react with the UV rays to cause burns, blistering and even blindness can now be found in Wisconsin.

The Giant Hogweed originally could only be found in parts of Europe and Asia. Today, the invasive species can be found all over the world including in the United States and specifically, Wisconsin.

Courtesy of Donna Ellis/Wisconsin DNR.

According to the New York Invasive Species Information website, the plant was introduced as a decorative plant in the early 1900s to Great Britain and then was transported to the United States and Canada to be displayed at arboretums.

The plant can now be found in a number of areas in New York, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin, and Ontario and Vancouver Island in Canada.

Courtesy of the Wisconsin DNR.

The plant has a thick stem and can grow up to 20 feet in height. When in bloom, its white flowers help it stand out from surrounding plants. The leaves of the plant are long and branched. The undersides of the leaves are covered in coarse white hairs and the leaf stalk also has purple mottling.

When humans solely come into contact with the plant, it will not harm the person. If they break a branch or leaf, its oils are the product of the plant that can cause burns and blistering when exposed to sunlight.

In Wisconsin, the plant is on the prohibited plant species list and it is on the federal noxious weed list. If you notice this invasive species on your property, you are recommended by the Wisconsin DNR to hand-dig them out if it is a small population.

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News Desk
Author: News Desk