Walton County chairman warns of invasive plant that can cause severe burn

Hogweed or Cow Parsnip plant. Contributed photo

Walton County Board of Commission Chairman David Thompson warned people at Tuesday Board of Commissioners meeting about the adverse, and painful, effects of touching a invasive plant that people could come into contact with at some time. The plant called Hogweed. It is also known as Cow Parsnip and is a large invasive herb that is currently in bloom throughout the Southeast.

Thompson warned this plant can grow up to 14 feet or more and will cause a severe burn within 48 hours if touched or brushed up against. Walton County noted on its Facebook post that while it may look intriguing, “DO NOT TOUCH THIS PLANT. If you believe you have been exposed wash the area immediately and do not expose the affected area to sunlight for at least 48 hours. Contact your physician if a rash starts to occur.”

In a recent article in Southern Living, it was noted that the plant has enormous blooms that look a bit like Queen Anne’s lace on steroids. It was initially confined to northern states, but appears to have somehow migrated further south. And according to West Virginia University, “the blooms are so pretty, and the 15-foot-tall plants so striking, that they were originally introduced to North America as ornamental plants.” However, it warns not to plant them as just one touch of the sap can cause severe skin irritation, burns, scarring, and even blindness.

So, if you happen to see a giant hogweed in your garden, do not touch the plant or attempt to remove it. You are instead urged to contact an environmental agency immediately. In Georgia, that would be the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

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