A giant hogweed is spreading across New York, threatening humans with sap that causes severe burns, blistering, permanent scarring and even blindness. N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued a giant hogweed warning and set up a hotline since the weed's growth has become out of control. 

 

Giant

Giant Hogweed can grow up to 20 feet tall. Credit: New York Department of Environmental Conservation

 

The gargantuan plant sports bunches of tiny white flowers the size of umbrellas, which helped the weed make into ornamental gardens, including one in Rochester, N.Y. In the century since it was planted there, it has spread across the state, with 1,004 confirmed sightings so far this season.

Stay clear! Charles O'Neill, coordinator of the Cornell Invasive Species Program, warned people about the plant. Hogweed is New York's most striking, dangerous and invasive plant, and its sap can make a case of poison ivy seem like a mild itch.

If the sap gets on your skin and it's exposed to sunlight ... you end up with third-degree burns, oozing and scars, Naja Kraus, the DEC's giant hogweed program coordinator, told the press. If it gets in your eyes, you can go blind.

 

Burns

Burns and blisters caused by giant hogweed sap. Credit: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

 

The DEC has set up a Giant Hogweed Hotline to report finding a specimen of the dangerous plant.