Yes, there’s giant hogweed in Ohio (in some places): What to know and how to spot it

Giant hogweed, the nasty invasive plant that’s currently in the news — experts discovered it for the first time in Virginia recently — has been found in scattered places in Ohio for a number of years, especially in Ashtabula County in the state’s far northeastern corner.

Health threat

In a chapter titled “Giant Hogweed: A Hazardous Invasive Weed in Ohio,” a 2005 CFAES research bulletin (scroll to p. 49) said “the state of Ohio recently added Heracleum mantegazzianum, better known as giant hogweed, to the state noxious weed list.” Reasons: Giant hogweed can spread quickly if not controlled, can crowd out native plants, and especially, its sap is a health threat to people.

“Furocoumarins in the sap can cause a skin reaction known as photodermatitis,” authors David J. Goerig and David L. Marrison wrote in the chapter. “This causes the skin to be highly sensitive to ultraviolet light. Swelling and blistering of the skin may occur which can result in permanent scarring. Contact with the eyes can cause temporary or sometimes permanent blindness.”

Free ID poster

Marrison, an educator in the Ashtabula County office of CFAES’s OSU Extension outreach arm, has been quoted by the media about giant hogweed in Ohio (a 2013 story in the Columbus Dispatch carried the headline “Godzilla of plants”); has co-written, also with Goerig, a CFAES fact sheet about giant hogweed; and has posted a number of resources about giant hogweed on his office’s website, including a poster on how to identify it. (Photo: Terry English, USDA APHIS PPQ,

4 thoughts on “Yes, there’s giant hogweed in Ohio (in some places): What to know and how to spot it

  1. Does this plant need to be reported if I’ve spotted it growing on a nature trail in Hoover park north canton Ohio?

    • To play it safe and to possibly help it get eradicated, you should report it to your county OSU Extension office. In turn they should be able to let the appropriate park, ODA or USDA-APHIS staff know about it.

      For North Canton, that would be the Stark County office, and specifically, the best person to contact would be Heather Neikirk, who is the agriculture and natural resources educator there:

      There’s an OSU Extension fact sheet about giant hogweed available that might be helpful if you haven’t found it already:

  2. Found 4 plants in Heath, OH in wetlands. One appeared to be mother plant and three offspring. Carefully covered plant with trash bag before de-stalking limbs. Dug-out root ball(s) and placed all in trash bag, sealed and deposited into open construction trash bin onsite to cook in sun. We will watch for more offspring.

  3. I was recently running on the Tow-Path trail in Cleveland and noticed that they are everywhere along the trail. There are dozens of them growing everywhere. I was very surprised to the see that many of them growing here.

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