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Giant, Toxic Weed Poses Health Risk
http://news.discovery.com ^ | Tue Jul 19, 2011 07:48 AM ET | By Emily Sohn

Posted on 07/19/2011 1:01:57 PM PDT by Red Badger

It's exotic and beautiful, a 15-foot tall plant with clusters of dainty white flowers and human-sized leaves -- resembling, it is often said, Queen Anne's Lace on steroids.

But giant hogweed is an invasive species that is spreading around much of the northern United States. Even worse, its sap is extremely poisonous, with the potential to cause blistering burns and even blindness.

Now that the giant hogweed's flowering season is here again, experts are taking the opportunity to draw people's attention to the plant -- for the sake of human health as well as for the health of the environment.

"It's one of the few invasive species that has such a severe human health impact, and people should really know about it," said Chuck O'Neill, coordinator of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Invasive Species Program in Ithaca, NY. "Unfortunately, I'd say 80 or 90 percent of people hiking have no idea what these plants look like."

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"Like the zebra mussel, they can be a poster child for invasive species," he added. "There's a certain appeal to a plant that's this big with that cringe factor of what it can do to you that gives you an opening to start talking about a lot more plants, animals and insects that are invasive."

The giant hogweed's story of invasion began in 1892, when two European brothers went on a botanical expedition to the Caucuses region of Eurasia, where they saw the plant for the first time, said botanist Naja Kraus, manager of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Giant Hogweed Program. Wowed by its height and beauty, they brought its seeds back to Europe, along with a variety of other species.

Enamored botanists quickly spread giant hogweed from garden to garden around Europe. It arrived in the United States in the early 1900s. It's not clear if botanists knew about the plant's poison -- and whether they cared.

Even today, people choose to put giant hogweed in their gardens, but the plant carries real risks. Toxic sap lies inside its bamboo-like hollow stalks. If the sap gets on your skin, the exposed area becomes unable to protect itself from the sun's rays, leading to terrible, blistering burns, followed by skin discoloration and darkening that can persist for years.

Wild parsnip and cow parsnip cause similar reactions, but giant hogweed's effects are far more severe. If the sap gets in your eyes and is then exposed to sunlight, it can cause blindness.

Sap can ooze out onto the leaves and stem, making the plant dangerous just to brush up against. And it doesn't produce flowers until it has been growing for a few years, which means that it isn't always easy to identify.

But people aren't the only victims of giant hogweed. The environment is at risk, too. Giant hogweed starts growing in April, before many native species have started to poke through. It grows rapidly. And a single plant can produce as many as 100,000 seeds in late summer.

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Most seeds fall just a few meters from the parent plant, so the weed's spread is more creeping than explosive. But its shady nature and fast growth help it smother and replace other kinds of plants.

So far, giant hogweed has been found growing in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oregon, Alaska and Washington State, as well as in parts of Canada, such as British Columbia and Ontario, and throughout Europe -- and possibly other places.

The good news, Kraus said, is that giant hogweed is controllable, and many states are making major efforts to eradicate it. In New York, her crews regularly visit about 1,000 sites, ranging from private property to state roadsides. Workers wear waterproof clothing from head to toe, and they learn how to get out of their suits to avoid touching the sap.

"I think this probably feels like a crisis to people who are just hearing about it because it's a very frightening plant, but I don't think it's any more of a crisis than it was 10 years ago," Kraus said. "It's spreading in some areas where we don't know about it, but it's decreasing in other areas where we do know about it and are controlling it."

To protect yourself, she recommended first learning what giant hogweed looks like. If you see it, don't touch it. If you touch it, quickly wash your hands with soap and water. Then, call your state's department of natural resources or conservation and report it. The same goes for other invasive and poisonous species, O'Neill added.

Like poison ivy, Kraus said, giant hogweed is just another plant you should know about before spending a lot of time outdoors.

"You want to know what's dangerous," she said. "You should just add these plants to your list of plants to stay away from.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: genesis; hogweed; invasivespecies; plant; toxic
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The sap of the giant hogweed is extremely poisonous, with the potential to cause burns and even blindness. Click to enlarge this image. http://www.nyis.info/plants/GiantHogweed.aspx

1 posted on 07/19/2011 1:02:03 PM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red_Devil 232; Diana in Wisconsin

Garden ping!.............


2 posted on 07/19/2011 1:02:56 PM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
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To: Red Badger

Dang, and I hoped it would replace that Jimson Weed I’ve been smoking.


3 posted on 07/19/2011 1:04:31 PM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: Red Badger

Time to dig out my old Genesis albums.


4 posted on 07/19/2011 1:04:52 PM PDT by SpaceBar
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To: Tijeras_Slim
Well, you might smoke it once......................
5 posted on 07/19/2011 1:07:12 PM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
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To: Red Badger

Why hasn’t “The Government” DONE something about this horrible threat?

Will somebody please think of the CHEEEEEEEELLLLLLLDRENNNNNN...


6 posted on 07/19/2011 1:08:18 PM PDT by WayneS (Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. -- James Madison)
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To: Red Badger

Why hasn’t “The Government” DONE something about this horrible threat?

Will somebody please think of the CHEEEEEEEELLLLLLLDRENNNNNN...


7 posted on 07/19/2011 1:08:35 PM PDT by WayneS (Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. -- James Madison)
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To: WayneS

You know the government loves illegal immigrants................


8 posted on 07/19/2011 1:10:17 PM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
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To: Red Badger
I wonder if you could collect the sap and... Nevermind.
9 posted on 07/19/2011 1:12:45 PM PDT by Cowman (How can the IRS seize property without a warrant if the 4th amendment still stands?)
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To: Red Badger

:: To protect yourself, she recommended first learning what giant hogweed looks like. If you see it, don’t touch it. If you touch it, quickly wash your hands with soap and water. Then, call your state’s department of natural resources or conservation and report it. The same goes for other invasive and poisonous species, O’Neill added. ::

Puhleeeeeze! If I find it, I’m gonna spray the schmidt out of it with Spectracide and dust the surrounding area with Sevin.

What is it with these bureaucratic pricks that believe only “they” can take care of these things and that ordinary folks can’t eradicate invasive weeds. He must be from Wisconsin.

Hey, O’Neill...take a flying leap ya stoopid gummint wonk!


10 posted on 07/19/2011 1:14:28 PM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Islam is a violent and tyrannical political ideology and has nothing to do with "religion".)
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To: Red Badger

” many states are making major efforts to eradicate it. “

Endagered Species lawsuits in 5., 4., 3., 2......


11 posted on 07/19/2011 1:14:47 PM PDT by Uncle Ike (Rope is cheap, and there are lots of trees...)
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To: Cowman

Put it in a spray bottle?..........better than pepper spray!............


12 posted on 07/19/2011 1:14:49 PM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

Purple loosestrife sends me into a murderous rage.


13 posted on 07/19/2011 1:16:17 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin! (look it up))
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To: Red Badger

aka Heracleum mantegazzianum

It is phototoxic


14 posted on 07/19/2011 1:16:27 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 ....Flash mobs are trickle down leftwing REDISTRIBUTION))
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To: Red Badger

Spray a little roundup on it.


15 posted on 07/19/2011 1:17:01 PM PDT by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: Red Badger

I’d name it the Obama Weed:

Not Native.

Toxic.

Invasive.

Gonna be difficult to get rid of.


16 posted on 07/19/2011 1:19:14 PM PDT by dagogo redux (A whiff of primitive spirits in the air, harbingers of an impending descent into the feral.)
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel
What is it with these bureaucratic pricks that believe only “they” can take care of these things and that ordinary folks can’t eradicate invasive weeds

because they want to use this as a legal means of entry onto your property so they can fine you for growing illegal cabbage varieties.

17 posted on 07/19/2011 1:19:25 PM PDT by Cowman (How can the IRS seize property without a warrant if the 4th amendment still stands?)
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To: Cowman

” I wonder if you could collect the sap and... Nevermind. “

Hmmmmm...

I’ve got a couple of neighbors who.... Nevermind...


18 posted on 07/19/2011 1:19:31 PM PDT by Uncle Ike (Rope is cheap, and there are lots of trees...)
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To: cripplecreek
I'm in the Environmental Compliance field. I was run-off of a company right-of-way in Wisconsin by a "well intended" neighbor who didn't think that we should be eliminating the loosestrife.

The next year, she was complaining about the extreme amount of japanese beetles that were eating her perennials.

Meh!

19 posted on 07/19/2011 1:21:25 PM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Islam is a violent and tyrannical political ideology and has nothing to do with "religion".)
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To: Cowman

Outstanding!!!


20 posted on 07/19/2011 1:21:48 PM PDT by wxgesr (I want to be the first person to surf on another planet.)
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

I’ve only seen a couple of japanese beetles this year.

I collect them and dump them in the lake for the bluegills.


21 posted on 07/19/2011 1:23:22 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin! (look it up))
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To: Cowman

:: so they can fine you for growing illegal cabbage ::

Illegal cabbage? I thought they used infrared cameras to make that determination. Guess I gotta make a few changes in “the yard”.


22 posted on 07/19/2011 1:23:41 PM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Islam is a violent and tyrannical political ideology and has nothing to do with "religion".)
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To: Red Badger

bump


23 posted on 07/19/2011 1:23:46 PM PDT by PapaBear3625 (When you've only heard lies your entire life, the truth sounds insane.)
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To: dagogo redux; Cowman

Cowman, pls disregard my previous post to you.

dagogo redux....

Outstanding post!


24 posted on 07/19/2011 1:24:03 PM PDT by wxgesr (I want to be the first person to surf on another planet.)
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To: cripplecreek

:: dump them in the lake for the bluegills ::

You do impale them on a hook first, right?


25 posted on 07/19/2011 1:25:16 PM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Islam is a violent and tyrannical political ideology and has nothing to do with "religion".)
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

Nah, I just make bigger bluegills


26 posted on 07/19/2011 1:28:40 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin! (look it up))
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

I bought a kayak and with my fly rod am becoming a bluegill catcher par excellance


27 posted on 07/19/2011 1:29:35 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 ....Flash mobs are trickle down leftwing REDISTRIBUTION))
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To: Red Badger; Tijeras_Slim
Even worse, its sap is extremely poisonous

I'm more poisonous.

28 posted on 07/19/2011 1:30:11 PM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: dagogo redux

But Giant Hogweed is Caucasian.


29 posted on 07/19/2011 1:31:10 PM PDT by JimSEA
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To: Red Badger
giant hogweed has been found growing in...Washington, D.C....

Why of course. The home of the biggest hogs of all.

30 posted on 07/19/2011 1:32:49 PM PDT by EternalVigilance (It's not really 'cut, cap and balance,' it's 'tinker, obfuscate, borrow and spend.')
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To: Georgia Girl 2

I read, sadly, that Roundup is not working as well as it used to. I hope that’s not true. It was always magic.


31 posted on 07/19/2011 1:35:41 PM PDT by brytlea (Someone the other day said I'm not a nice person. How did they know?)
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To: martin_fierro

Contrary to popular belief, Roundup won’t kill everything.................Nutsedge is immune...........


32 posted on 07/19/2011 1:37:20 PM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
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To: Red Badger

Who wins if the hogweed goes head to head with kudzu?


33 posted on 07/19/2011 1:42:25 PM PDT by Nachoman (Wisdom is learned, cynicism is earned.)
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To: bert; cripplecreek
Been slaying bluegills, sunfish and redears with my fly rod for years .

Look around on-line for poppers (8, 10 and even 12 sizes). Try these: http://tinyurl.com/3omodt6

Nothing like seeing them rise to the surface and slurp them in. My grandsons love to go with me...I hook 'em and they peel the line in. Literally, hours of fun.

Late in the day, you can get serious. Tie on a bigger surface popper (I use a size 4 "frog" or "mouse") and target bucket-mouth bass. If you get one good size bass (patience...it may take a week or more) to take that bait you have a memory that keeps bringing you back!

Stay in touch with your efforts.

34 posted on 07/19/2011 1:43:05 PM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Islam is a violent and tyrannical political ideology and has nothing to do with "religion".)
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To: Red Badger

When you have a big plant, you gotta show one that's big.

Reminds me of one of the photoshops of a guy with a giant cat, squirrel, fish, etc. Where's the giant petunia?

These suckers are perennials, too.

35 posted on 07/19/2011 1:46:16 PM PDT by Right Wing Assault (Dick Obama is more inexperienced now than he was before he was elected.)
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To: Nachoman

Invasive species tag team wrestling. I’ll put my purple loosestrife and eurasian milfoil up against your Kudzu and hogweed any day.


36 posted on 07/19/2011 1:46:46 PM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin! (look it up))
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To: brytlea
I read, sadly, that Roundup is not working as well as it used to. I hope that’s not true. It was always magic.It's true. See, when you grow crops that have been genectically modified to be "Round Up Ready" and soak them with Round Up, some of those weeds are going to survive. Those weeds have seeds and evolution continues on it's merry pace.
37 posted on 07/19/2011 1:48:40 PM PDT by Drill Thrawl (No one is more against progress than a progressive.)
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To: brytlea

The Roundup you buy at homodepot is really watered down. Their patent is gone so maybe they are stretching it even more to maintain the margin.

You have to have a Applicators License to buy the real stuff.

Since their patent ran out there are some better ones available.


38 posted on 07/19/2011 1:48:52 PM PDT by dusttoyou ("Progressives" are wee-weeing all over themselves, Foc nobama)
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To: bert; SpaceBar

It’s immune to our herbicidal batterings ...


39 posted on 07/19/2011 1:49:24 PM PDT by bassmaner (Hey commies: I am a white male, and I am guilty of NOTHING! Sell your 'white guilt' elsewhere.)
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To: Red Badger

I thought we had a giant toxic weed sitting in the WH?


40 posted on 07/19/2011 1:54:11 PM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: cripplecreek
Purple loosestrife sends me into a murderous rage.

Poison ivy makes me itch.....

41 posted on 07/19/2011 1:54:33 PM PDT by Hot Tabasco (You can't forfeit the game Chuck! If you go home you forfeit!)
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To: Red Badger

But a gallon of Gasoline will kill most everything roundup won’t

and it’s cheaper


42 posted on 07/19/2011 1:56:04 PM PDT by Mr. K (CAPSLOCK! -Unleash the fury! [Palin/Bachman 2012- unbeatable ticket])
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To: Mr. K

I got weeds that DIESEL won’t kill!....................


43 posted on 07/19/2011 2:01:15 PM PDT by Red Badger (PEAS in our time? Obama cries PEAS! PEAS! when there is no PEAS!..........................)
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To: cripplecreek
MUST KILL BUCKTHORN!

44 posted on 07/19/2011 2:06:03 PM PDT by Aevery_Freeman (White Hetero Able Male (WHAM) a.k.a. NOT Holder's people)
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

I was gonna call 911, ya never know what this stuff could do.


45 posted on 07/19/2011 2:06:53 PM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Drill Thrawl

That’s what I just read. I had no idea they were doing that. I guess they will have to come up with something new.


46 posted on 07/19/2011 2:09:55 PM PDT by brytlea (Someone the other day said I'm not a nice person. How did they know?)
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To: martin_fierro

Yeah but round up has a comfort grip.


47 posted on 07/19/2011 2:09:58 PM PDT by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Red Badger
All you weed-killer sprayers are lightweights. Here's how you kill weeds - Weed Dragons.


48 posted on 07/19/2011 2:11:30 PM PDT by CholeraJoe (Don't Panic and always bring a towel.)
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To: Red Badger

Since no-one has done it yet, here is the song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTuJQL8GBqY


49 posted on 07/19/2011 2:28:13 PM PDT by Disambiguator
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

Maybe I missed the sarc tag...but why would you spray insecticide on the thing? More likely need some stout concentration of glyphosate, or some other strong herbicide?


50 posted on 07/19/2011 2:35:02 PM PDT by PubliusMM (RKBA; a matter of fact, not opinion. 01-20-2013: Change we can look forward to.)
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