Concerns of Giant Hogweed on the rise, but other plants just as irritating

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Story Updated: Jul 4, 2012

ORISKANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Cornell Cooperative Extension says that while Giant Hogweed is in Oneida County, there are many more prevalent plants like Queen Anne's Lace and Wild Parsnip blooming that look similar to it, but are not actually Giant Hogweed.

Unlike the smaller plants, the Giant Hogweed, which causes blisters and even blindness, has blooms that could be over two and a half feet wide.

"The top things to look for is an umbrella-shaped flower," says Lynette Kay of the Cornell Cooperative Extension. "It's huge, it's white, the stem, which is green with red spots on it and a little bit of hair, it's huge. It's about ten to fifteen feet tall this plant. It's mammoth."

Kay says that a lot of people are calling the Cornell Cooperative Extension thinking they have Giant Hogweed in their yard when it's really Wild Parsnip, a yellow and smaller plant but one that can still cause blisters.

The relatives of Faith Odit of Cold Brook got into what she was afraid was Giant Hogweed, because of the skin irritations they got from playing with it.

"It was nasty stuff. Some of these children, and I'm talking little children, they were 8 and under," says Odit. "She was covered. She had it all over her stomach. Of course they played with it in their bathing suits. She had it all over her stomach, one kid totally up and down the back like he laid in it, all over their legs and it was terrible."

The Cornell Cooperative Extension says that while not as serious as with Giant Hogweeds, Wild Parsnips do cause blisters.

The best thing to do for the weeds is to wear gloves to chop them, bag them and send them to a landfill, and see a doctor for any skin irritations.

If you think you may have Giant Hogweed in your yard, you are asked to send a picture to lsk23@cornell.edu or call 315-736-3394.

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