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Giant Hogweed New Jersey

Giant Hogweed New Jersey
Giant Hogweed New Jersey

New Jersey is not called “The Garden State” for nothing.

Our state is among the top 10 producers of blueberries, cranberries, peaches, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, apples, spinach, squash and asparagus. Hungry yet?

There is also a strange, poisonous plant growing in Jersey that can be painful to touch and in some cases can even cause blindness.

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This plant was first discovered in the early 20th century and has been spotted in Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and now New Jersey.

Even the name of the plant is scary. Giant hogweed. Yuck.

Everything about giant hogweed is unique. The only advantage is that it is not too difficult to spot.

READ MORE: CDC warns New Jersey of deadly “kissing bug”

I, Liné1, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I, Liné1, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Giant hogweed can grow up to 5 meters tall. You will notice the unique colors – a light green stem with reddish-purple hues and white hairs.

Look at the seeds.

Steve Hurst, hosted by USDA-NRCS PLANTS database, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Steve Hurst, hosted by USDA-NRCS PLANTS database, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One plant can produce up to 20,000 tiny seeds and be dispersed by the wind. They can then lie dormant in the soil for years.

For this reason, it is important that you contact the environmental authorities if you discover giant hogweed.

Fritz Geller-Grimm, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fritz Geller-Grimm, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is what a fully grown giant Hogwarts plant usually looks like.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture states:

This skin reaction, called photodermatitis, is caused by the furocoumarins contained in the sap. The first symptoms of giant hogweed photodermatitis appear within 24 to 48 hours of contact with the sap and include itching, redness, heat, swelling, and blistering. Plant saps can also cause painless red spots that later develop into purple or brownish scars that may persist for several years. For an adverse reaction to occur, once the skin is contaminated with plant saps, it must be moist (sweat) and then exposed to sunlight. Contact with the eyes can cause temporary or possibly permanent blindness.

Department for Environmental Dialogue

Department for Environmental Dialogue

Patch reports that there have been sightings in Somerset, Warren and Morris counties.

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Gallery credit: Matt Ryan

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