This Flower May Look Beautiful, But If You See It, Don’t Touch It

published May 23, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Ruud Morijn Photographer/Shutterstock

A stunning bloom will make you want to stop and smell the roses, but be careful; there’s one that, instead, should inspire you to call your local authorities.

The giant hogweed is an invasive plant that grows up to 15 feet tall and can be identified by its stem with purple splotches and by its crown of white flowers shaped like an umbrella. 

Don’t be fooled by its beauty, because it’s incredibly toxic. Touching it can cause skin damage ranging from blisters to long-term scarring. It can also cause your skin to become hypersensitive to ultraviolet light, making it easier to get sunburned. These effects can last anywhere between six months and six years. And if the plant’s sap gets in your eye, it can cause temporary vision loss or even permanent blindness.

In case you do touch it, the NY Department of Health advises that you get out of the sun as the toxins can take effect as soon as 15 minutes after contact. Then, wash the with cold water and soap before applying anti-itch cream and sunblock. If sap gets in your eye, wash for at least 15 minutes and put on sunglasses. Consult a doctor if you get a severe reaction.

The states where it commonly grows are New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, but it has also been found elsewhere. If you manage to spot one, call your local officials to have it safely removed.