ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WVEC) -- The dangerous and invasive species Giant Hogweed has been spotted in Virginia!
If exposed to the plant, it can cause 3rd-degree burns and possibly permanent blindness.
This plant is currently on the Virginia Invasive Plants Early Detection Species list. That means the plant is not widely established in Virginia, but it is known to be highly invasive to habitats similar to ours.
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.
Until recently, there have been no confirmed cased of the Giant Hogweed in the Commonwealth.
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 5 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 includes, varying skin reactions, but phytophotodermatitis can occur, meaning 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.
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