An invasive plant is taking over parts of Indiana, and the Department of Natural Resources is warning people to stay away from it as oil from the flowers can cause skin trauma and even blindness.
Giant hogweed, or heracleum mantegazzianum, is on the Federal Noxious Weed list, which means it’s so dangerous it’s illegal to sell or transport across state lines. It boasts a giant cluster of white flowers and can grow between 7 and 14 feet tall, and the stems are green with purple patches and coarse white hairs. Unfortunately, it looks a lot like Cow Parsnip, which grows wild in northern states like Michigan. Michigan residents are panicking after finding what they believe to be giant hogweed, but the Department of Agriculture says it’s not likely they’ll find any that far north. All the reports so far have been investigated and have turned out to be Cow Parsnip.
Though giant hogweed isn’t deadly, officials are concerned at the rate they’re finding the plant around Indiana and are trying to spread the word about it.
“We are trying to get rid of it,” Division Director for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology Philip Marshall said. “It has a big flower and there are a lot of look-alikes.”
The Department of Natural Resources is urging anyone who thinks they’ve spotted the plant to call 1-866-NO EXOTIC (1-866-663-9684).
Image: Michigan Dept. of Agriculture