Weed that causes burns, blindness found in Clark County

Clark County

Giant hogweed can cause severe burns to humans, July 11, 2019. (Clark County Public Works)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An invasive plant that can cause severe burns and even blindness has made its way to Clark County.

Clark County Public Works said Thursday giant hogweed was recently spotted in Salmon Creek.

The plant is federally classified as a Class A noxious weed, meaning its eradication is a top priority in the state of Washington.

Experts say giant hogweed is harmful to the environment because it pushes out native plants and poses a health risk to humans.

Sap from the plant can make skin extremely sensitive to the sun, which can lead to third-degree burns and even blindness if the sap gets into an eye.

Giant hogweed can reach heights of 15-20 feet. It has stout, dark reddish-purple spotted stems and leaf stalks, July 11, 2019. (Clark County Public Works)

Giant hogweed was brought to the U.S. in the early 20th century as an ornamental garden plant and has since been found along the East Coast, as well as Oregon and Washington. It can spread if its seeds enter a waterway and float downstream.

Officials say the toxic plant looks similar to the native cow parsnip but giant hogweed grows much taller — up to 20 feet.

Cow parsnip (left); giant hogweed (right), July 11, 2019. (Clark County Public Works)

If you think you’ve found giant hogweed and the plant is taller than 6 feet, please send pictures and location information to weed.board@clark.wa.gov.

How to identify giant hogweed

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