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Giant hogweed grows up to 20 feet in height. It has stout, dark-reddish-purple stems, compound leaves up to five feet in breadth, and white flowers on an umbrella-shaped head up to 2½ feet in diameter.

Introduced from Eurasia around 1917 for use as an ornamental plant, today this species is common along railroads, roadsides, rights-of-way, streams, rivers, uncultivated or waste lands, and agricultural areas. It reproduces by seeds that can be dispersed a short distance by wind and can float in water for up to three days. Human activities, such as the use of seed heads in floral arrangements, the transportation of topsoil, and the development of rights-of-way, can also disperse the seeds.

Giant hogweed is a public health hazard. It contains a substance within the sap that makes the skin sensitive to ultraviolet light, resulting in severe burns, swelling and painful blistering. This plant creates a dense canopy that crowds out native species and also contributes to soil erosion on stream banks.

Call the Hogweed Hotline as the first step toward managing a suspected giant hogweed infestation: (877) 464-9333.
More Resources:

Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas
Domestic Programs Pest Evaluation
Fact Sheet


Plant Conservation Alliance
Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas
Fire Effects Information System


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