News Local

Beware of giant hogweed

By Joyce Cassin, Northumberland Today

Northumberland County Forestry Management Officer and Weed Inspector, Mia Frankl says giant hogweed has been spotted in Northumberland.

"If the sap of this plant comes in contact with your skin it reacts with sunlight and can cause severe burning," said Frankl.

"If the sap comes in contact with your eyes you may experience temporary or permanent blindness."

Giant hogweed has been mistaken for other species, especially others in the carrot family, but its giant size is the easiest distinguishing feature, as it towers above these other species, she says.

According to Frankl, it can be a serious health hazard for humans. Its watery, clear sap contains photosensitizing compounds which, when in contact with human skin and in combination with UV radiation, can cause burning. Content varies depending on plant part, but contact should be avoided at all times.

Reaction depends on individual sensitivity. After 24 hours, reddening and swelling of the skin can be noticed, which is followed by an inflammatory reaction after three days.

Depending on individual sensitivity, effects can last for months and skin can remain sensitive to UV light for years, she says.

"Currently the county is assessing how much of this plant exists in the County and we have a test site to see how it reacts to pesticide treatment," said Frankl. "There are two confirmed occurrences in the county, and possibly more to come."

She says it is not currently on the province's noxious weed list so they are focussing on education and awareness only at this time, however they are responding to calls and doing site visits for identification as well as providing an information brochure to inform people of what to look out for and avoid.

Visit for more information on Giant Hogweed or call Northumberland County at 905-372-3329 ext. 2303 and request a brochure.