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.
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, Bugwood.org.)