A dangerous weed has been spotted in Michigan. Giant hogweed, federally classified as a noxious weed, was identified growing in a yard in Venice Township. When its sap makes contact with human skin, it can cause permanent blindness, scarring, painful blisters and severe skin and eye irritation.
The weed can grow up to eight feet tall and 12 feet wide. It’s hard to identify, often being mistaken for wild parsnip, Angelica, poison hemlock or common hogweed. “In general, only two percent of what’s reported ends up being giant hogweed,” said John Bedford, a specialist with the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) pest response program.
Although the MDA used to send hazmat crews to remove giant hogweed, budget cuts have made the department often defer the task to landscape contractors. The state suggests cutting off the weed’s taproot and flower heads, which contain seeds. If they’re small, they can be mowed or cut. Plant material from the disposal should be taken to a landfill. “There has to be a lot of vigilance at the site, or it will come back the following year,” Bedford added.