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Giant hogweed in Genesee County

By Howard B. Owens

I never heard of a giant hogweed until one day a couple of years ago  I went for a walk in Corbett's Glen in Rochester.

There was this big leafy plant surrounded by yellow police caution tape and a hand-made sign explaining the dangers of hogweed.

It produces a sap that burns like acid. You don't want to get exposed to it.

The Democrat & Chronicle has a story today about a DEC eradication program that is running out of funding.  This year and next its running on federal stimulus money, but after that, local property owners will be on their own for learning how to properly remove the plant.

The info graphic at the end of the story is a map that includes Genesee County.  A similar, wider-area graphic, is on the DEC site, with a DEC article about hogweed. The maps show two areas of heavy infestation -- more than 400 plants -- in Genesee County. One is roughly in the Bethany area and the other in the Corfu/Darien area. There are another four sites with as many as 400 plants, and four sites being monitored.

And those are only the identified infestation areas. The DEC believes there are many more unidentified locations in the state.

From the DEC site, "Its sap, in combination with moisture and sunlight, can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness. Contact between the skin and the sap of this plant occurs either through brushing against the bristles on the stem or breaking the stem or leaves."

As for plant distribution, "Giant hogweed grows in wet areas along streams and rivers, on waste ground, near houses, in vacant lots, and along railways and roads. It prefers moist soil and can quickly dominate ravines and stream banks."

tom hunt

I read the article in the D&C yesterday and it brought back memories of spotting a patch of Hogweed growing in a ravine along Silver Road heading towards Linden several years ago. At the time I had no knowledge of the plant, but was amazed at the size of the stems and flowering heads. I would hope they have been eliminated by now.

May 30, 2010, 8:20pm Permalink
Bob Price

There has been infestation behind my house for over 25 years-I believe the one near me is Russian Hogweed-it has a round head on it-when we first noticed it back in the day,my dad and I went around chopping it down w/ long handle shovels-I remember getting a little of that sap on my hands-ouch-blisters and scars.....

May 31, 2010, 12:40am Permalink

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