This Towering Plant Is Invading the US, and It’s Causing Serious Sunburns

Olde Hornet

Well-Known Member

The giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a towering weed that can cause vision loss and intense burns. But no, this poisonous plant doesn't come from Professor Sprout's botany syllabus at Hogwarts; instead, it's very real and was recently identified in Virginia, according to news reports.

A Virginian came across the giant plant and suspected that it could be bad news. So, he contacted local experts about it, including Jordan Metzgar, a curator with the Virginia Tech Massey Herbarium who helped identify the plant.

Sure enough, the towering weed — which can grow to over 14 feet (4.3 meters) tall and is topped with white flowers — turned out to be a giant hogweed. Though this was the first time the invasive plant was identified in Virginia, giant hogweed has already established a home across many parts of the mid-Atlantic, Northwest and New England regions; there are at least 400 giant hogweeds in 239 sites across New York alone, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.