If you thought poison ivy was bad, meet the giant hogweed plant. According to USAToday.com, it's known to grow in the mid-Atlantic states, New England and the Northwest, but it's recently been spotted in Michigan. This has health officials issuing stern warnings to the public to avoid the plant for good reason: Instead of giving you merely an itchy rash like poison ivy, skin-to-plant contact can result in scars that stick around for years. Scarier still, getting sap in your eyes can make you go blind. But those nasty consequences may not even show up right away: It can take as long as two days to notice any effects.
Though the plant that was sprouting in Michigan has been removed, it's possible that others are growing nearby. To avoid inspiring pranksters to misuse the plant, though, the exact location of the extracted plant hasn't been shared publicly. According to AOL.com the offending flora was in Calhoun County, just east of Kalamazoo. Rest assured, authorities plan to keep tabs on the area for several years.
So how can you spot the giant hogweed plant if you have the misfortune of stumbling upon something that resembles one? First, the sheer size may tip you off. It can reach heights of 6 to 12 feet, and a diameter of 5 feet. More telling is the stem: Look for red and purple blotches and bristles. The flowers, themselves, are white and delicate like Queen Anne's Lace. But don't even think about picking this plant. Call the health department in your area if you see one. And if you're going somewhere that may have the dangerous plants, it's a good idea to wear long pants and sleeves as you walk outside.
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