Plant That Causes Severe Burns And Even Blindness. Here Is What You Need To Know

It’s always nice to get outside and enjoy a walk in nature. When the weather is right, it can really help you to get your life back in focus. Now that spring is here, you might be considering going for such a walk but there are reasons why you should be concerned. There is a danger in the form of a plant that is spreading in many parts of the United States. Health officials are now warning of the extreme risk that comes from just touching the plant.

The plant is the Giant Hogweed, or Heracleum mantegazzianum. It has been a problem for quite some time but now it is spreading out of control. As it shows up in new areas, people may not be aware of the dangers that come with touching this plant. Coming into contact only one time with the sap can lead to serious burns and perhaps even blindness.

This plant may be known by various names. Some of the more common names include giant cow parsnip, giant cow parsley, cartwheel-flower, or hogsbane. Regardless of what you call it, it is dangerous.

In the United States, the plant is now reportedly growing in Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. It can grow to 14 feet high and the dark leaves may be as big as 5 feet in diameter.

The stem of the plant is hollow and had white hairs and purple dots. On top of the plant are large white flowers but don’t be tempted to pick them. The plant is very dangerous.

Photosynthesizing furanocoumarins is the chemical found in the sap of the plant. It causes an extreme photosensitive reaction when it comes in contact with the skin, leading to severe burns. Within 48 hours of coming in contact with the skin, giant, painful blisters may show. The scars can last for many years.

One of the possible dangers is if it gets into your eyes because it could lead to blindness.

If you do come in contact with the sap, get out of the sun quickly, apply sunscreen and wash the area with cold water. You can also apply an aluminum acetate mixture to the area.

If you get sap in your eyes, rinse them with cold water right away and wear sunglasses.

This video shows you more of the dangers of this plant: