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Giant Hogweeds Growing in mid-Michigan?

Posted: 12:15 PM, Jun 23, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-23 16:15:02Z

Don't be fooled by the pretty white flowers, with big green leaves. They can leave a lasting effect on you, like third-degree burns, and even blindness. We are talking about giant hogweeds. 

A FOX 47 viewer reached out to us to look into some suspicious looking plants in his neighborhood. Marcus Dash investigates.

It sounds like a mythical plant, but its real and it's dangerous. When one local man believed he came across it on his afternoon bike ride, we checked it out and asked the experts.

"Within miles all the way around, there was a lot of hogweed," said Carl Brown.

Naturally, Carl Brown was concerned, certain types of hogweed can be very dangerous.  Doctor Alan Fryday of MSU says its like poison ivy but on steroids.

"You'll get a really bad rash, it can be permanent. If you get it in your eyes, it can cause permanent blindness," said Doctor Alan Fryday.

Doctor Fryday was, of course, referring to the dangers of a giant hogweed one way you can tell the difference between a hogweed and a giant hogweed, is the size of its leaves.

"It can get up to 12 feet high, the flower heads are afoot to 18 inches across, they have red stems," said Fryday.

Our investigation found it to be a false alarm. The plants all over Brown's neighborhood were just plain ol' hogweeds that look like giant hogweeds, Fryday says its good to be cautious when it comes to these plants.

"It's always best to be safe. If you ever see anything that might be it. Stay away from it," said Fryday.

The plants do grow in the wild. The latest confirmed sighting was in Virginia. It has been discovered in previous years in states in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and Midwest, including here in Michigan back in 2015.  Again, if you do see giant hogweed, don't touch it, and report it.

Giant hogweeds have long green stems with small red or purple spots and a spray of white flowers on top. If you think you may have touched it, wash the affected area with soap and water and stay out of the sun for 48 hours. The symptoms are sun sensitive, and it will cause even more serious reactions.