Toxic plant that causes blindness, third-degree burns could be g - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Toxic plant that causes blindness, third-degree burns could be growing in Ohio

Giant hogweed can grow in Ohio (Source: University of Connecticut/USDA) Giant hogweed can grow in Ohio (Source: University of Connecticut/USDA)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

The invasive "giant hogweed" plant was recently spotted in Virginia, and has been known to grow in parts of Ohio.

Touching the plant can cause severe burns, a reaction making skin sensitive to light, and even blindness.

According to the Ohio State University

Giant hogweed’s greatest danger is the effect its sap has on humans. Furocoumarins in the sap can cause a skin reaction known as phyto-photodermatitis. This causes the skin to be highly sensitive to ultraviolet light. Swelling and blistering of the skin occurs and may lead to permanent scarring. Contact with the eyes can cause temporary and sometimes permanent blindness.

The plant can grow up to 14 feet tall with large bunches of white flowers at the top of the plant. 

Recent sightings in Ohio include a giant hogweed plant in Pepper Pike, according to the Cleveland Metroparks. Other discoveries have prompted warnings after it was found across the Midwest, as well as in Michigan and New York.

Do not mow, cut or weed whack the plant, as it will just send up new growth and put you at risk for being exposed to sap -- the same kind of thing that would happen with poison ivy or sumac. Seek advice from professional plant control specialists about management options. If you must touch giant hogweed, wear disposable rubber gloves, a long-sleeved shirt and pants. 

- New York Department of Health

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