Dangerous giant hogweed found in Virginia; can cause blindness, severe burns

A dangerous plant that can cause blindness and third-degree burns has been discovered in Virginia, according to officials.

The Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech said it found the plant in Clarke County, Virginia. According to the Massey Herbarium, there were about 30 plants found at the site.

Contact with the plant or its sap, combined with exposure to the sun, can produce third-degree burns and permanent blindness, according to officials.

WARNING: The photos posted at bottom of this story depicting burns from giant hogweed are graphic in nature.

Giant hogweed is on the Virginia Invasive Plants Early Detection Species list, which means it is not yet widely established in the state but is known to be highly invasive.

Until recently, there were no confirmed cases of giant hogweed in Virginia, according to officials.

So how did it get in Virginia? The Massey Herbarium said it appeared the previous landowner planted the giant hogweed at the site for ornamental reasons.

Once established, the plant can be spread through human transport, such as moving dirt or plants, or in natural ways, including wind and water dispersal, according to the Massey Herbarium. Here are handy tips to help you identify giant hogweed.

If you come across the plant, you are urged to report it to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. If the Virginia Cooperative Extension​ confirms it is hogweed, you are urged​​​​​​ to report it to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

GRAPHIC IMAGES: The following photos depict burns from giant hogweed and are graphic in nature.

Mountain View