Virginia Tech researchers hopeful positively identified Giant Hogweed will remain contained

Giant Hogweed

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech researchers advise people to remain on the lookout for Giant Hogweed, but they don’t want you to worry too much.

The Giant Hogweed that was identified in Clarke County last week was believed to have been planted intentionally decades ago, and hasn’t spread since.

“It’s a dangerous plant but I’m not overly concerned about it. This seems to be an isolated incident,” said Virginia Tech’s Michael Flessner, an assistant professor and extension weed science specialist. Flessner worked with Jordan Metzgar, curator of the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech, and Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent Mark Sutphin to identify the plant last week.

According to Flessner, if you think you spot Giant Hogweed in the wild, don’t panic. Instead, take a photo and compare it to similar-looking plants such as the cow parsnip and Queen Anne’s lace.

Do not mow or use a trimmer to remove Giant Hogweed or cow parsnip, as both are irritants – but cow parsnip is nowhere as near as dangerous as the Giant Hogweed, which is a Tier 1 Noxious Weed that can cause severe skin inflammation and even blindness if eye exposure to its sap happens.