Some readers may find the picture of the rash caused by Hogsweed disturbing, discretion is advised.

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) continues to warn the public of an invasive plant capable of causing third-degree burns. Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is known to cause severe skin and eye irritation, including temporary or permanent blindness. 

The DEC asks New Yorkers to remain vigilant and report sightings of Giant Hogweed locations. The toxic sap of the giant hogweed contains a chemical that acts like reverse sunscreen when combined with sunlight, it can cause severe burns.

Giant Hogweed burns courtesy of DEC

How to Identify Giant Hogweed:

  • Giant Hogweed is a biennial or perennial herb in the carrot family (Apiaceae) which can grow to 14 feet or more.
  • Its hollow, ridged stems grow 2-4 inches in diameter and have dark reddish-purple blotches. 
  • Its large compound leaves can grow up to 5 feet wide and its white flower heads can grow up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter.

If you come in contact with Giant Hogweed, immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and keep the area away from sunlight for 48 hours. Additional safety precautions for controlling Giant Hogweed and symptoms of exposure can be found here.

According to officials, if you locate a Giant Hogweed, do not touch the plant. DEC asks to take photos of the entire plant (stem, leaves, flower, seeds), note the location, and send a report with the information to ghogweed@dec.ny.gov or call the information line at (845) 256-3111.

DEC said from late April through August, field crews visit each confirmed giant hogweed site, and use the appropriate control method. This is free of charge to the landowner they said.