August 14th, 2006 at 7:44 am
Giant hogweed, a noxious plant, has been spreading in the U.S. Midwest, bringing with it burns and blisters for those who come in direct contact with it.
The towering plant, identified by its white-flowered weeds, spreads fast and causes itching and skin discoloration that can last for as long as one year, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Although Illinois appears to be safe, the Tribune reported that hogweed has been spotted in Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.
We made a stand and got really aggressive with this beast, said Glenn Nice, a weed scientist at Purdue University. It’s a real pest, and we don’t want it here.
Hogweed, which can grow as tall as 15 feet, is believed to have originated in the mountains of Eurasia. A flat oval fruit produced by the plant has been used by Iranians as a cooking spice. Flowers from a hogweed plant can produce thousands of seeds that can spread by water.
Hogweed is believed to have come to America from Britain in the 1990s when it was shipped to a New York arboretum.
Hogweed sap can cause second-degree chemical burns by acting as "a reverse sunblock."
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