A Horrifying Toxic Plant Causing Third-Degree Burns and Blindness May Start Popping Up Near Cleveland

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Wikimedia Commons
The Giant Hogweed Plant has a name that immediately invokes some nightmare imagery of a demonic warthog, and the invasive plant can do some serious damage when it comes in contact with humans.

Although extremely rare, 30 Giant Hogweed Plants were recently spotted this week in Virginia. Terrifyingly enough, the plant has a history of growing throughout Northeast Ohio, most notably in Pepper Pike.

Ohio State University warns of the plant's sap, noting the Furocoumarins in the substance can cause a skin reaction called phyto-photodermatitis, making skin highly sensitive to ultraviolet light and cause swelling and blistering of the skin, which may lead to permanent scarring.

If the sap comes in contact with eyes, the Furocoumarins can cause temporary and potentially permanent blindness. The plant can grow up to 14-feet tall with large bunches of white flowers at the top, so despite it's beauty, don't touch it or attempt to take selfies with it.

Do not mow, cut or weed whack the plant, as it will just send up new growth and put you at risk for being exposed to sap — the same kind of thing that would happen with poison ivy or sumac. Giant Hogweed plants should not be handled by unskilled individuals, so if you spot one growing near you, please contact the Cleveland Metroparks for proper disposal. 

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