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Giant hogweeds are another thing to sort of worry about

Giant hogweeds are one of Washington's most dangerous plants, with sap that can cause burns and blisters. (Line 1, Wikipedia Commons )

Giant hogweed is a noxious Washington plant that makes blackberry bushes look like amateurs. They don’t even have delicious berries on them. Instead, the sap contains a toxin that could have you avoiding sunlight for years.

That toxin reacts to ultraviolet rays from the sun, which can cause severe blisters and scars. These burns can even reoccur for up to 10 years whenever that part of your body is exposed to the sun.

But the leaves are kind of pretty.

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If you’re worried about hogweeds creeping up behind you, reported cases have been rare. Recently a Virginia teen suffered burns after brushing against a hogweed while landscaping, and this week noxious weed experts with King County removed the plant from a West Seattle home, reports KING 5. They didn’t then quarantine West Seattle by blowing up the bridge or anything. It wasn’t that serious.

A King County report from 2006 estimated that approximately 1,100 of the evil weeds were growing around these parts, though in 2017 crews heroically reduced that number to 414. One wonders why they haven’t removed those remaining 414.

Originally brought over from Russia, hogweeds are toxic perennials that can reach 15 feet tall, featuring 3-5 foot leaves that produce umbrella-shaped clusters of small white flowers in July.

Hogweeds produce millions of nomadic, durable seeds

Those 414 hogweeds may gain some friends, since the invasive plant also produces millions of seeds that remain viable for up to seven years and have the ability to travel great distances on water without sinking. Washington state classified it a Class A Noxious Weed, which means landowners are required to control the plant when it occurs on their land. You’d be ill-advised to start any kind of Hogweeds R Us stores as well, since buying, selling, and transporting them is prohibited.

Hogweeds strongly resemble a more innocent plant, cow parsnips, and are dangerous to handle, so it’s best to contact the noxious weed program instead of trying to remove it yourself. Even though Seattle is often cloudy, not being able to go out in the sun for 10 years would be a bit of a hassle, to say the least.

Learn more at King County’s less than flattering hogweed profile.

Click here to report hogweed sightings in King County.

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