This toxic plant can cause 3rd-degree-burns and blindness

Virginia Officials Warn of Dangerous Invasive Plant

Other discoveries have prompted warnings after it was found across the Midwest, as well as in MI and NY.

WARNING: The photos posted at bottom of this story depicting burns from giant hogweed are graphic in nature. If you don't look too closely at it its stem, which is covered in purple splotches and coarse hair-like protrusions, the giant hogweed is nearly pretty.

The plant is a member of the carrot family and can grow to more than 14 feet tall, according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Though there's no reason to think swarming hordes of giant hogweed will soon threaten Richmond or the Washington area, officials want to keep it contained.

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Giant hogweed is one of three plants defined in Virginia as a Tier 1 noxious weed and is heavily regulated.

Sightings of the giant hogweed have been reported in Virginia, Maine, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and parts of the Pacific Northwest, WTVD reports.

The sap of this plant contains toxic chemicals known as photosensitising furanocoumarins. Touching giant hogweed can also lead to a long-term sunlight sensitivity and blindness if sap gets into a person's eye.

The unsafe Giant Hogweed recently identified in Virginia was "planted intentionally", according to the Virginia Tech researchers who helped identify the plant.

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Compressed soaked in an aluminum acetate mixture that is available at pharmacy provide relief form skin irritation.

According to the health department, if someone comes in contact with the toxic plant, it should be immediately washed off with cold water and not come into contact with the sun. Do not mow, cut or weed whack the plant, as it will just send up new growth and put you at risk for being exposed to sap - the same kind of thing that would happen with poison ivy or sumac. Instead, seek advice from professional plant control specialists.

If you come across this plant, you can report sightings of an invasive species here.

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