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Invasive Weeds Can Cause Blisters, Blindness
Science News Daily ^ | 7-25-2002

Posted on 07/25/2002 12:08:07 PM PDT by blam

Date: Posted 7/25/2002

Invasive Weed Can Cause Blisters, Blindness

AMHERST, Mass. – Gardeners, landscapers, farmers, hikers and others who spend time outdoors are being urged by the state agriculture department and the University of Massachusetts Amherst to watch out for an invasive, noxious weed that has been found in Massachusetts. The giant hogweed, a native plant of the Caucasus region of central Asia and found in the western Massachusetts town of Granville last week, can grow to 15 feet tall. The sap can cause severe skin irritation, blisters and swelling and contact with the eyes can cause temporary or permanent blindness. Photos and more information on the giant hogweed are available on the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture's Web site at www.mass.gov/dfa/pestalert. Anyone who believes they have found a giant hogweed plant should contact the Department's Pesticide Bureau at 617/626-1771 for guidance on how to kill and dispose of the plant.

The giant hogweed was introduced into the United States as an ornamental plant and has become established in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington state. Infestations have also been reported in Maine, Michigan and Washington D.C., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. State agriculture inspector Alfred Carl found the weed on a routine inspection in Granville.

"This plant is bad news," says Craig Hollingsworth of University of Massachusetts Extension. Hollingsworth coordinates the state's Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey. "We have been on the lookout for giant hogweed for a couple of years. It has big seeds and is spread by birds, but the main culprits are gardeners."

Hollingsworth says that the plant can be spectacular, growing up to 15 feet tall with four-inch stems that have purple splotches and leaves five feet across at its base. It has large umbrella-shaped flowers. He says that the plant has been irresistible to some gardeners who have imported it to grow in their gardens.

A similar related species, cow parsnip, is often mistaken for giant hogweed. Cow parsnip differs in that it reaches a maximum height of six feet and has no purple on its stems. Giant hogweed seeds are used in a Middle Eastern spice called golpar.

Brad Mitchell, Director of Regulatory Services for the state Department of Food and Agriculture, says that it is important to remove giant hogweed wherever it is found. "We're concerned about the potential consequences if this plant becomes as common as other introduced weed pests such as Japanese bamboo or purple loosestrife."

Once established, giant hogweed is difficult to control without chemicals, according to Mitchell. Cutting off flower heads will prevent this season's seeds from forming, but the root can send up new shoots every year and the roots can spread.

Editor's Note: The original news release can be found at http://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/archive/2002/072402weed.html


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Massachusetts
KEYWORDS: blindness; invasive; weedsblisters
I'll see if I can find a picture
1 posted on 07/25/2002 12:08:07 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
What's next? Attack by killer tomatoes?
2 posted on 07/25/2002 12:09:27 PM PDT by colorado tanker
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To: blam
Invasive Weeds Can Cause Blisters, Blindness

Nicknamed the “masturbation weed.”

3 posted on 07/25/2002 12:10:10 PM PDT by dead
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To: blam

Giant Hogweed

4 posted on 07/25/2002 12:10:17 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

(more) Giant Hogweed

5 posted on 07/25/2002 12:12:41 PM PDT by blam
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To: dead
you are killing me......

Masturbation Weed....

ROTFLMAO
6 posted on 07/25/2002 12:13:25 PM PDT by vin-one
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To: blam
I just read that the powdered seeds of this plant reduce flatulence when sprinkled over beans.
7 posted on 07/25/2002 12:19:06 PM PDT by Redcloak
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To: blam
Buy some brush (better) or weed (O.K.) killer concentrate. The systemic ones that don't kill right away but are absorbed by the leaves and work down into the roots are best. Cut off the stem reasonably close to the ground. Paint the fresh cut with the concentrated killer. I use this method with mulberry bushes. Usually, cutting them is a waste of time because they just come right up again from the roots, but this works. Cutting the plant before it seeds out is key.
8 posted on 07/25/2002 12:21:28 PM PDT by RonF
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To: blam
"A similar related species, cow parsnip, is often mistaken for giant hogweed..."

Wild cow parsnip is all OVER Alaska. It looks like this:

It has CAUSTIC juice. It can be eaten if picked early enough, but non-Natives don't usually look at it as a food. My son tried to eat it raw when he was a tyke, and got 2nd degree burns all around his mouth, in his mouth, down his belly. He still has scars. As far as I know, the plant is not TOXIC, but it is caustic. Beware.

9 posted on 07/25/2002 12:24:38 PM PDT by redhead
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To: RonF
From the photos, this thing is rather ugly, plus rather large. I just wonder who would want to plant one in their yard.

Just a dumb question, but why is our customs office allowing the importation of this, and numerous other plants, that are highly invasive? Until proven non-harmful to our US environment, plants should be denied entry. Must be the same folks who let all the Muslim terrorists into the country.

10 posted on 07/25/2002 12:26:48 PM PDT by CdMGuy
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To: blam

11 posted on 07/25/2002 12:37:00 PM PDT by robertpaulsen
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To: robertpaulsen
LOL. The Day Of The Triffids is one of my favorites. (Haven't thought about if for decades.)
12 posted on 07/25/2002 12:44:54 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
While we are on the topic of invasive plants, here's one you don't want in your neighborhood. It's really fun on bare legs. Lots of it out behind my house.

Yellow Star Thistle
Public Plant Enemy #1

The Yellow Star Thistle has infested over 8 million acres in California and threatens every Western state. The Verde watershed is especially vulnerable to this noxious weed and property owners need totake aggressive action to eradicate this dangerous pest before it is too late.

13 posted on 07/25/2002 1:07:45 PM PDT by ElkGroveDan
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To: blam; dighton
...an invasive, noxious weed that has been found in Massachusetts.

Once established, giant hogweed is difficult to control without chemicals


14 posted on 07/25/2002 1:21:43 PM PDT by Thinkin' Gal
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To: Thinkin' Gal
...Massachusetts. The giant hogweed,... Also known as Teddy Kennedass...
15 posted on 07/25/2002 1:25:20 PM PDT by null and void
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To: CdMGuy
Stuff like this is usually imported as seeds, not as whole plants, sometimes inadvertently (stuck on clothing, etc.). Customs probably never saw it.
16 posted on 07/25/2002 1:26:38 PM PDT by RonF
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To: blam
Invasive Weed Can Cause Blisters, Blindness

You know, I seem to remember being told by my grandmother that something else causes those same symptoms...

17 posted on 07/25/2002 1:28:47 PM PDT by truenospinzone
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To: blam; Carry_Okie
M. Right up your alley. D.
18 posted on 07/25/2002 1:30:24 PM PDT by sauropod
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To: ElkGroveDan
You might want to add that the one herbicide to control Starthistle, Transline, costs $500/gallon primarily due to regulatory costs.

Thank you EPA.
19 posted on 07/25/2002 1:41:15 PM PDT by Carry_Okie
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To: Carry_Okie
Have you tried a sodium chloride concentrate? That's salty water -- the saltier, the better.
20 posted on 07/25/2002 1:59:36 PM PDT by Motherhood IS a career
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To: blam
There is a whole chapter in my book on this topic. (I'm not going to excerpt it here as the quotes would be too long.) As far as I am concerned, exotic species are the most serious environmental problem we have, one that actually has alarming consequences. The current system operates as an enormous trade subsidy. From what I have seen government has made the problem far worse and threatens to make it into the most massive and disastrous public works program in the nation's history.
21 posted on 07/25/2002 2:00:30 PM PDT by Carry_Okie
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To: Motherhood IS a career
Salt? On starthistle? Get serious, I want to kill the stuff but I don't want to destroy my land. Do you know how many plants are in a typical infestation? Do you know how small they can be when they breed? Do you know how hard they are to find? Do you know how many seeds a single plant can produce? Do you know how hard they are to remove mechanically? Do you know that they produce a neurotoxin that is worse than the herbicides used to kill it?

I've heard everything from fire to vinegar. The fact is that most pest infestations are complex and dynamic enough to require custom treatment plans. There is no substitute for being trained and equipped for multiple methods, and there is no substitute for intimate familiarity with the land.

22 posted on 07/25/2002 2:14:06 PM PDT by Carry_Okie
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To: ElkGroveDan
The Yellow Star Thistle has infested over 8 million acres in California and threatens every Western state. The Verde watershed is especially vulnerable to this noxious weed and property owners need totake aggressive action to eradicate this dangerous pest before it is too late.

Tordon would get rid of it in a heartbeat. We used it when I did line clearance for the utility companies years ago and it is still on the market. You probably need some kind of special license to buy it though. It would probably get rid of that Hogweed pretty easily too. Here is a link on herbicides.

23 posted on 07/25/2002 6:13:03 PM PDT by L_Von_Mises
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