Giant Hogweed is Here

I recently had the opportunity to ask one of the most knowledgeable botanists I know as many pertinent questions out of my confused and confusing plants folder as I could tastefully work into the conversation.

“Have you run across Giant Hogweed on your place?” He lives on a sizable parcel of Floyd County property that he knows well, both as a farmer and as a retired botany-educated professional. He said “Why yes I have.”

It had recently been observed in Virginia, but not the southwest part of the state.

Dangerous Hogweed Plant Found in Virginia

We talked about the so-what, and he was not optimistic that its spread could be contained, given the effort it would take and the general apathy of local citizens–even other farmers.

I contended that, even so, it made sense to me that, for sake of prevention of the health impact of this plant, we should educate folks. And so…

The best source I have found for comparing similar plants is from a New York source–a state where Giant Hogweed is long and well-established. If you want to be knowledgeable and possibly save yourself or someone you know from a really really bad time, give it a careful look. There are helpful illustrations here of five plants that bear resemblance to and could possibly be confused with Giant Hogweed.

Giant Hogweed – New York Invasive Species Information 

And I’d hope that our local network of naturalists, farmers and hikers would communicate about observations. Catching these populations when there are few individuals and they are not 20 feet tall would be preferable. We don’t want our kids coming in contact with this. And animals–who may not react to the exudate–can carry it on their coats and transmit it to human skin that way.

Author: fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

2 thoughts on “Giant Hogweed is Here”

  1. Hi,
    We at Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) would like to follow up on the location the botanist referred to in your discussion above. Could you please either pass on their contact information to us or pass on my to them.
    Tina MacIntyre
    tina.macintyre@vdacs.virginia.gov
    804-786-3515
    Cooperative Agricultural Survey Coordinator,
    Office of Plant Industry Services, VDACS

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.