A towering plant known as the Giant Hogweed that can cause blindness, skin irritation, and permanent scarring is proliferating in New York state, prompting a warning from the state's Department of Environmental Conservation.

The noxious plant originates in the Caucasus Mountain region of Europe and gained popularity as a garden plant, eventually spreading to the Americas. But if you ask New Yorkers, it is more likely to conjure terror than bucolic flower arrangements.

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 New York Post. If it gets in your eyes, you can go blind.

The DEC has set up a special web page emblazoned with the words Do Not Touch This Plant! in giant green text, established a Giant Hogweed Hotline and dispatched teams of agents to uproot the plant by visiting the 944 sites across the state where the wicked weed is known to grow.