Thursday, July 7, 2011

Giant Hogweed - Green Monster

I have posted on this in the past and it does not get better the second time around.  I presume this noxious weed is an annual and will be killed of in the fall.  In the meantime it is important to intercept the flowers, by either cutting the plant down, checking later for regrowth or simply clipping the flower heads as they open.  That last method would work for a nearby homeowner who does not wish to be in actual contact with leaves and stems.

It requires more vigilance but could be practical at least.  Actual removal of the plant is obviously not recommended without special clothing and equipment.

The reality is that this plant needs to be irradiated and this will take a public education program that gets everyone out looking for sites.  It will be a lot of hard work that may best driven by buying dug up plants for one year only to provide a one time incentive long before the seeds mature.

Green monster

Last Updated: 9:58 AM, July 6, 2011
Posted: 1:01 AM, July 6, 2011

It's got beautiful flowers as big as umbrellas -- and sap that causes blindness and third-degree burns -- and it could be coming soon to a city park near you.

Giant Hogweed, a monster plant that looks like Queen Anne's Lace -- but is more akin to the man-eating-plant Audrey II from "Little Shop of Horrors" -- is spreading in New York state, with dozens more confirmed sightings since last year, experts said yesterday.

The botanical beast is so rampant that the state Department of Environmental Conservation has even set up a special Giant Hogweed Hotline -- and ordered a special 14-man crew to root out its nesting spots along streams, roads and unsuspecting residents' back yards.

Giant Hogweed

"If the sap gets on your skin and it's exposed to sunlight . . . you end up with third-degree burns, oozing and scars," Naja Kraus, the DEC's Giant Hogweed Program coordinator, told The Post.

"If it gets in your eyes, you can go blind."

The outwardly stunning plant -- with up to 20-foot stalks, 2½-foot-wide flowers and 5-foot leaves -- is now in full bloom, Kraus said.

There are currently 1,004 confirmed sightings -- 60 more than last year.

The plant was brought to New York around the late 1800s, and since then has spread mainly through the central and western parts of the state. The closest confirmed sighting to New York City has been the Muttontown Preserve on Long Island.

Asked if there had been any sighted in places such as Central Park, Kraus said no, but quickly added, "Just because it hasn't been reported doesn't mean it isn't there."

Kraus said her office has received reports of kids using the plant's 4-inch-wide stems as telescopes, putting them up to their eyes -- and getting severe burns on their faces.

And even DEC workers aren't safe: A technician who came in contact with the plant last year "got a horrible burn on her leg that she still has to cover up," Kraus said.

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John Boanerges Redman said...

This is only a small part of the story - that needs wide dissemination. This plant is in the parsnip family. ALL wild parsnips share this danger to humans but many of them are much smaller, some not much bigger than Queen Anne's Lace which they are related to and resemble. The flowers of the smaller ones have a yellow/golden cast. It is also known by the character of the stem - it is ridged and somewhat hairy - and its leaves come out of the stem with an edge that surrounds the stem. All varieties (that I know of) have 'hand-like' leaves. It has spread throughout Vermont along the ditches (that has the soil it thrives in) partly because farmers have waited till the end of season to mow there. By then, it has gone to seed. The seeds are viable for about 7 years. All parts of the plant must be removed and DO NOT COMPOST the removed plants. Then, one must keep after the area for 8 years without allowing one to go to seed. Fun, huh? Think about where auto accidents happen. Who all gets exposed to crushed plants? Yeah, victims AND emergency personnel. Some common names are Blister Weed, Poison Parsnip and Cow Parsnip. If you reside from New England down to Maryland, learn to recognize this. It really makes Poison Ivy/Oak look like a Summer cold next to liver cancer. Remember that it poses little danger without exposure to UV radiation. Here's an article about the giant one:

arclein said...

Maybe it is time we simply opened up the ditches to the farmers as theirs to operate and maintain. The fence row has always been allowed to run wild because no proper use was allowed.

we have already noted that it is a perfect place to plant potatoes. That alone would swiftly eliminate the problem.