The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a warning to residents about a dangerous and illegal plant. The very invasive plant can cause painful burns and permanent scarring to the skin when touched. The DEC wants New Yorkers to know the risks of the very large, giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). Simply brushing against the plant or breaking it causes the giant hogweed to release a sap that can cause severe burns when it is combined with sunlight and moisture. The burns can appear within 24 to 48 hours.

Giant hogweed is a Federally listed noxious weed and NYS law prohibits its possession with the intent to sell, import, purchase, transport, introduce or propagate.

Giant hogweed stem (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation)
Giant hogweed stem (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation)
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If you happen to come in direct contact with a giant hogweed plant, the DEC says you should wash the area with soap and water. Keep the affected area out of the sunlight for 48 hours. Consult your physician if you believe the plant burned you. If you spot the giant hogweed on your property, don't touch it. You can find the Health Hazards & Safety Instructions for giant hogweed here.

Giant hogweed leaf (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation)
Giant hogweed leaf (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation)
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How To Identify The 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. Its white flower heads can grow up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter.

You can use the photos included in this article to help identify the giant hogweed.

Giant hogweed flower (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation)
Giant hogweed flower (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation)
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Giant hogweed seeds (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation)
Giant hogweed seeds (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation)
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Multiple Locations Across New York State Are Threatened By Giant Hogweed

As you can see from the map below, the giant hogweed, which is native to Caucasus Mountain region between the Black and Caspian Seas, has invaded many locations across the state.

(NYS Department of Environmental Conservation)
(NYS Department of Environmental Conservation)
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