Experts: dangerous weed found in Virginia is not spreading widely

Sap from the Giant Hogweed could cause blindness. (Source: Virginia Invasive Species)
Sap from the Giant Hogweed could cause blindness. (Source: Virginia Invasive Species)
Updated: Jun. 25, 2018 at 9:15 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Good news after a dangerous plant was found in several locations in Virginia - experts believe that the weed is not spreading widely.

Giant Hogweed can cause significant burns and permanent blindness if handled improperly.

Researchers at Virginia Tech, working with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), confirmed the plant has been located in Clarke County, Rockingham County and Fauquier County, and they believe another plant has been found in Alexandria.

However, they do not think the plant is widespread.

"It's growing where it's been planted, from what we've seen," said Virginia Tech professor and weed science specialist Michael Flessner. "We see little evidence of it widely spreading."

Giant Hogweed is classified as a Tier 1 noxious weed, which means the weed was previously unknown in the Commonwealth. Experts say the sap can cause severe skin and eye irritation, leading to painful blistering and possibly permanent scarring. It has a similar appearance to Queen Anne's lace, but its size sets it apart - it can grow up to 15 feet tall.

If you think you have seen Giant Hogweed, VDACS wants you to take photos of the plant and submit a report here. They want to ultimately eradicate the plant before it becomes established in the state.

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