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Stay away from giant hogweed, an invasive and dangerous plant

If the plant's sap gets into a person's eyes it can cause temporary or permanent blindness

If the plant's sap gets into a person's eyes it can cause temporary or permanent blindness


Ian Jacobs
Reporter

Monday, June 10, 2013, 9:21 AM -

It may seem like a harmless looking plant, but experts with the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver say giant hogweed can do some serious damage.

"If you come in contact with the plant, you immediately need to get that part of your body out of the sunlight, so cover it up, and get somewhere where you can wash with soap and water, and then again keep that area covered from the sunlight," says Jennifer Grenz with the Invasive Species Council.

Giant hogweed can cause severe burns and blisters when in contact with the skin and if the sap is rubbed in the eyes, it can even cause blindness.

The plant isn't new to areas in North Vancouver, but as Grenz explains, it’s important that the public still knows how to recognize it.

"The first thing that people can do to protect themselves is they really need to know what this plant looks like. They need to know what this plant looks like in its large form and when it’s in its small form, because it's equally as toxic when they're little tiny babies as when they are 15 feet tall," says Grenz.

She adds that the leaf edges are like a serrated knife and the stems are made up of stiff, spiky hairs.

Hogweed begins to grow in February and remains in the open until November, making maintenance almost a year round project.

Anyone who spots the invasive plant is asked to contact municipal authorities. Residents can report the weed on the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver website.

"We're really thankful to the public for reporting the plants to us and we really encourage people to keep doing that because we do need to know where it is so we can deal with it," says Grenz.

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