A Plant Known for Causing Serious Burns is Blooming Again in Canada

 

If you're ever taking a walk through nature and see this plant, you're better off staying away from it for your own safety.

Giant hogweed (scientific name Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a potentially dangerous plant that typically blooms in June or July every year. It pops up in large numbers and can grow up to heights of roughly five metres, according to a report from The Weather Network.

So what makes it dangerous?

The sap produced by giant hogweed can irritate human skin and, when combined with sunlight, can cause painful blistering burns or even blindness in some scenarios.

"The Nature Conservancy of Canada says giant hogweed is one of the country's most dangerous plants," the report states. "It's asking people to document sightings, which have been spotted flowering in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia."

Giant hogweed is an invasive plant that was introduced to Canada from Asia.

Anyone who comes into contact with it is advised to thoroughly wash the area of contact and avoid sunlight for 48 hours. If burning occurs, contact a doctor as soon as possible.

"While reports in Canada have been minimal, a woman in Renfrew, Ontario was told in 2014 that she would have to avoid direct sunlight for three years after being badly burned by wild parsnip, which belongs to the same family as giant hogweed," The Weather Network reports.

"Burns acquired from the plant can continue to cause painful blisters when exposed to sunlight for up to a decade."

The Ontario government provides more information on giant hogweed and how to protect yourself from its effects.

Stay safe out there, Halton!

Photo courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

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