A dangerous invasive weed that can grow to towering heights has turned up in Virginia for the first time. The plant's sap can cause severe burns.
WASHINGTON — A dangerous invasive weed that can grow to towering heights has turned up in Virginia for the first time.
It’s called giant hogweed for a reason: it can grow 15 feet tall or taller.
“It’s really quite massive. The flower heads can be almost three feet across,” said Jordan Metzgar, curator of the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech. “I pressed a specimen for our museum collection here yesterday, and one leaf was larger than my torso.”
Metzgar helped confirm the discovery of about 30 plants in Berryville in Clarke County. It appears they were planted as ornamentals by a now-deceased landowner in the 1970s.
“The population hasn’t spread at all, so that’s a good thing,” said Metzgar.
He said the plan is to dig up and kill the existing plants, and return to the site once or twice a year for the next several years to ensure no more plants have appeared.