ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A dangerous and invasive plant that can cause third-degree burns and permanent blindness has been spotted in Virginia.
The Giant Hogweed is currently listed on the Virginia Invasive Plants Early Detection Species list, meaning the plant is not widely established in the state but is known to be highly invasive to habitats similar to Virginia’s.
Isle of Wight County posted on Facebook warning about a possible sighting of the plant. VDOT also reported sightings of the Giant Hogweed in the Staunton area and Middlesex County, 8News affiliate WVEC reports.
According to the DEC, the plant can grow anywhere between 8 to 14 feet tall when it’s flowering. If the plant is in bloom, the numerous white flowers will cluster into a flat-topped “umbrella.”
The leaves are lobed, deeply cut, and up to five feet across. The stem will be hollow and rigid, and even have purple blotches and coarse white hairs near the base of the plant.
According to the county, some complications if anyone comes into contact with a Giant Hogweed include varying skin reactions as well as phytophotodermatitis, which occurs when the sap makes the skin so sensitive to sunlight that sever burns can occur from normal exposure to the sun.
Other symptoms include painful blisters and exposed skin can remain sensitive to sunlight for many years after exposure. If the sap gets into anyone’s eyes, there is the potential for blindness.
The Giant Hogweed could find its way into the Tidewater and Coastal Virginia area, the county said.
To report a sighting of the plant, click here.