Northern Virginia residents may want to use caution when working outside.
Officials are warning community members about a dangerous plant — Giant Hogweed.
The plant emits a poisonous sap that can cause severe burns and blisters, or blindness if it makes contact with an individual’s eyes, according to a release from the county.
Giant Hogweed can grow up to 15 feet tall and contains 2 ½ foot wide blossoms.
Officials have discovered it in parts of Northern Virginia, including Alexandria, Arlington and Fauquier County.
Most of the Giant Hogweed found was planted and hasn’t spread to other areas, according to Paige Thacker from the Prince William Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE).
“What we’ve seen is plants that were put there and they stayed onsite; and there aren’t any other Hogweed plants around it, as far as we’ve heard,” Thacker said in a release. “We haven’t found it in a situation where it spread by seed.”
The Giant Hogweed located in Northern Virginia was sold as plants that resemble it.
“The planting in Fauquier they just found, as well as the one in Alexandria, were mistaken plants,” Thacker said. “They were bought as one of the lookalikes. They thought it was something called Angelica, which is a common lookalike, but not nearly as big.”
Devils Walking Stick, Queen Anne’s Lace, Cow Parsnip and Poison Hemlock also look similar to Giant Hogweed.
County residents who believe they have found Giant Hogweed should contact VCE at 703-792-7747.
“If people find it, or think they have it, they need to call us and we will go out and check out the site,” Thacker said. “If it is Hogweed then we will get in touch with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services about eradication. Basically, they shouldn’t try do anything with it. Call us and let the experts handle it.”
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