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Posted on: August 23, 2023

Livingston County, D.E.C. Reminding Residents to Avoid and Report Giant Hogweed

Hogweed

GENESEO, N.Y., Aug. 23, 2023 – Livingston County and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are reminding residents to be on the lookout for Giant Hogweed – a very large invasive species that can cause painful burning or scarring.

A member of the carrot family, Giant Hogweed, which is often mistaken for other plants including Queen Anne’s Lace, can grow to heights of 14 feet or more and can be identified by its hollow, ridged stems with dark reddish-purple blotches.  Its leaves can grow up to five feet in diameter while its white flower heads can grow to lengths of over two feet.  Giant Hogweed releases a sap that, when combined with sunlight and moisture, can cause severe burning on skin and may even cause temporary or permanent blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes.  

If you come into contact with Giant Hogweed, the D.E.C. recommends the following:

  • Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and COLD water as soon as possible.
  • Keep any exposed area covered or away from sunlight for 48 hours.
  • If a reaction occurs, topical steroids applied early can reduce the severity of the reaction and ease discomfort.
  • If a reaction has occurred, the area of skin may be sensitive to sunlight for a few years and you may want to apply sun block or keep the affected area covered when possible.
  • See a physician if you have a reaction or any questions.
  • If sap gets into your eyes, rinse them with water, wear sunglasses or cover your eyes and seek emergency medical care immediately to prevent potential blindness.

A federally listed noxious weed, New York State prohibits the sale of Giant Hogweed as well as its possession, import, purchase, transport or introduction to an environment.

Giant hogweed is a native of the Caucasus Mountain region between the Black and Caspian Seas that was introduced to the United States in the early twentieth century as an ornamental garden plant.  It has become established in New England, the Mid-Atlantic Region and the Northwest.   Giant Hogweed grows along streams and rivers, in fields, forests, yards and near roadsides.  It grows in sunny areas and in partial shade, preferring moist soils.  Each year, the D.E.C. visits multiple confirmed Giant Hogweed sites and employs a variety of measures to safely remove the invasive species and prevent its return.  

To report Giant Hogweed or learn more, please visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website or call (845) 256-3111.       

About Livingston County:
 Founded in 1821, Livingston County, N.Y., is comprised of more than 61,000 residents in 17 towns located across 631 square miles of the Finger Lakes region.

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