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Friday, September 19, 2014
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Giant plant is a giant problem

Tuesday, August 05, 2014 - Updated: 5:46 PM

ALBANY -- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation continues its efforts to control invasive giant hogweed plants across the state and reminds residents to report any new locations.

"DEC is making great strides towards eradicating giant hogweed in New York," said Commissioner Joe Martens. "Every property where giant hogweed can be removed increases biodiversity and helps to make outdoor areas safe for people to enjoy.

"It is important to raise public awareness to make sure people know how to identify this plant, know not to touch it, know how to report it and know how to eradicate it."

Giant hogweed is a non-native invasive plant that can cause painful burns, permanent scarring and even blindness. DEC warns against touching any part of the plant, as skin exposed to both giant hogweed sap and sunlight can be severely burned.

As a noxious weed, it is unlawful to propagate, sell or transport. In addition to being a health concern, it crowds out native plant species and can contribute to soil erosion.

Now is the best time to discover giant hogweed locations, as the plants are currently flowering and setting seed. Flowering giant hogweed plants are 8 to 14 feet tall with very large flat-topped clusters of small white flowers, have a green stem with purple blotches and coarse white hairs, and large leaves up to 5 feet across.

They look like giant versions of another wild plant, Queen Ann's lace.

DO NOT TOUCH

If a plant is suspected to be giant hogweed, do not touch it. Take photos of the entire plant (stem, leaves, flower and seeds). Then, report information on plant numbers and locations to the DEC -- either attach photos to e-mail to ghogweed@dec.ny.gov or call the Hogweed Hotline at (845)-256-3111.

The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District will also take reports at hcswcd@frontiernet.net or (518) 548-3991.

Eradication efforts to date are encouraging. This year, now halfway through the field season, more than 800 properties have had their giant hogweed plants controlled by DEC and 28 percent of properties visited had no plants found this year after being controlled in a previous year.

     

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