Officials in Durham are warning of this plant, that can give you a rash….for a YEAR!
WHITBY, ON – Durham Regional officials are warning residents to be cautious of the outdoors, as the region is monitoring one of the most noxious plants out there: giant hogweed, which makes poison ivy seem tame in comparison.
The plant has survived the winter and wet spring. It is thriving in the area east of Toronto – in Pickering, Uxbridge and Newcastle, but it can also be spotted in other places across Ontario.
“It can leave rashes that will stay with you for years. It’s almost like a burn,” said Warren Nicholishen, Durham Region’s top weed fighter.
Skin contact with the weed’s sap can cause painful burning blisters, and in the most severe cases, blindness.
“If you get (it) near your eyes, it can cause temporary loss of sight,” Nicholishen told 680News.
Furthermore, “if you are near these plants and you break a plant, the little bit of vapour that gets released into the air – if you’re amongst numerous plants and you inhale this, it can do serious damage to your lungs,” he said.
The plant is commonly found in parks, along road sides and stream banks. It is usually located around sources that provide equal sunlight and shade, while offering access to a supply of water.
Nicholishen said the best defense against it is to be aware of what the plant looks like: It can closely resemble queen ann’s lace, cow parsnip or garden angelica in appearance, except it can grow as tall as six meters.
“This plant will grow anywhere from one to three metres in height. The stalk will be, probably, close to [the] diameter of your wrist. It’ll have reddish-purple blotches on the stalk.”
Originally from Asia, the weed has room to grow very tall, and once the top matures, can drop thousands of seeds.
According to Nicholishen, the plant started to appear in the Durham Region about five years ago.
“There are people that have it, that don’t even know they have it, so it’s going a while. I’m sure ten years from now, unfortunately, there’s probably going to be many more of these plants.”
To report a sighting of giant hogweed on public property, such as parks or along the road side please contact the Durham Regional Weed Inspector with the location and description at 905-668-7711 ext. 3501 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.