By now most people are familiar with the oak processionary caterpillar, but a much bigger problem is emerging in our natural environment. The hogweed is increasingly advancing from natural areas toward urban areas and our gardens. But what is the danger of this plant and what should you watch out for? In this article you will learn all about the hogweed, how to recognize it and how to control the giant hogweed can be controlled. This is how you keep yourself and your family safe!
What is the danger of hogweed?
The hogweed is a plant with poisonous sap. They work this sap out of themselves via fire hairs, so you can get this sap on your skin. The sap of the hogweed contains furocoumarins. This substance reacts violently when exposed to sunlight. As a result, the sap can become problematic to varying degrees. Did you unknowingly get the sap on your skin and then get into the sun? If so, second-degree burns can occur.
Perhaps even worse than burns, is the possibility of going blind. This can happen when the juice comes in contact with your eyes. Also, when you swallow the juice, there can be considerable irritation to your intestines.
In addition, the plant has the same effect on animals. Cats and dogs may even end up suffocating when they have chewed the plant, as ulcers form on the inside of the mouth and trachea. This is a very painful and slow way of dying. Yet this is not what happens with every hogweed plant. In fact, there are two species of hogweed present in Europe. One is the hogweed; a native plant species that poses no danger. The other hogweed is the giant hogweed. This plant is an exotic in Europe; the plant is not native to Europe. This is the plant with the poisonous sap. But how do you tell the two apart?
Recognizing the (giant) hogweed
While recognizing the hogweed will not be very complicated, distinguishing the two species is a lot more complicated. This is because the only difference between the two species, is their size. The giant hogweed is labeled a giant because it can grow up to 5 feet tall. The regular hogweed grows to a maximum height of 1 meter 60.
The hogweed grows with long stems, from which white flowers grow during the flowering period beginning in late June. These white flowers grow on stalks and collectively form a kind of white flower cushions on top of the stem. To grow a 5-meter tall giant hogweed, the mother stem is quite wide.
Outside of the flowering period, it can be difficult to identify the plant. The only way to recognize the plant then is by its leaves. This is because the hogweed has large, green leaves that are shaped like a prickly hogweed. The leaves are bright to dark green and have clearly visible veins. These leaves grow at the base of the plant, but are also present on the stems.
Since the plant releases its protective sap even outside the flowering period, it is important to spot it in time. Especially when you have young children who like to run through nature.
Getting the giant hogweed controlled
Once you have spotted a giant hogweed in your yard or nearby, it is wise to seek professional help immediately. Since the plant is an invasive species that spreads easily and quickly, it is important to remove it carefully. This will prevent the plant from spreading to your neighbor’s garden or the playground down the street.
Controlling hogweed can be done during and outside the plant’s flowering period. Since hogweed is a weed, you are never quite sure if you have been able to remove it all from your garden. So have a professional landscaper come by every year to check that no new hogweed is growing. Make sure you don’t leave any residual products of the hogweed in your garden by putting all pruning waste directly into the dumpster or a garbage bag. So after removal, check the ground extra carefully for plant residue left behind.
By paying close attention in your area to see if you see a giant hogweed growing, you are making sure that the environment is a lot safer. Do you spot a giant hogweed on municipal land? If so, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Due to the toxic properties of the plant’s sap, large numbers of people, children and animals can be significantly harmed.
Unsure if you are dealing with a hogweed or giant hogweed? Even in that case, it’s best to contact a landscaper. He can check the plant, has the right materials and resources and knows exactly what to do if it is a giant hogweed. So always be on the safe side by contacting them as soon as possible.
Recognize the danger of the Giant hogweed .