The state Department of Environmental Conservation is continuing its ongoing efforts to control invasive giant hogweed plants across the state. It's reminding residents to look out for the plant and report any new locations.
Giant hogweed resembles an enormous parsley plant, up to 14 feet tall with 5-foot-wide leaves and bristles on its purple-blotched hollow stems. Skin exposed to hogweed sap can be severely burned.
If you find one, DEC wants you to take photos and email them to ghogweed(at)dec.ny.gov.
More than 800 properties have had their giant hogweed plants controlled by DEC.
From the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
How do you identify giant hogweed?
Giant hogweed is a biennial or perennial herb in the carrot family (Apiaceae) which can grow to 14 feet or more. Its hollow, ridged stems grow 2-4 inches in diameter and have dark reddish-purple blotches. Its large compound leaves can grow up to 5 feet wide. Its white flower heads can grow up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter. Please refer to the Giant Hogweed Identification page for further help. Some other plants look very similar.
What to do if you see giant hogweed:
First: Use the key on our giant hogweed identification page to try and make a positive identification. Other plants that look similar are also shown.
Second: Photos are needed to confirm identification. Take high resolution photos of the entire plant, stem, leaves, flowers and seeds, making sure to keep a safe distance.
Third: Email DEC: firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Giant Hogweed Hotline: 1-845-256-3111. Provide photos, detailed directions to the plant infestation and estimate the number of plants.
When giant hogweed sap, which contains photosensitizing furanocoumarins, contacts human skin in conjunction with sunlight, it can cause phytophotodermatitis - a serious skin inflammation. In brief, the sap prevents your skin from protecting itself from sunlight which leads to a very bad sunburn. Heat and moisture (sweat or dew) can worsen the skin reaction. The phototoxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact, with sensitivity peak between 30 minutes and two hours after contact.
Photo of giant hogweed burn - 5 days to 5 months after initial exposure Photo credit: Bob Kleinberg