The Giant Hogweed is a member of the Apiaceae family and is native to Central Asia. Giant Hogweed was originally introduced to North America as an ornamental plant; however in some parts of North America this plant has escaped cultivation. Giant Hogweed is a highly competitive plant that substantially reduces the amount of suitable habitat available for native plants and wildlife. This plant is now restricted in all provinces across Canada. Researchers need to know what this plant looks like and how to identify Giant Hogweed when they are working in the field.
Giant Hogweed has been confirmed in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador. Giant Hogweed is suspected in the Yukon. It is not present (yet), in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, PEI, North West Territories, and Nunavut.
Below are two links to information about Giant Hogweed. Where ever Giant Hogweed is identified, it should be reported to local authorities so it can be removed before it begins to spread.
Human Health issues of Giant Hogweed:
Giant Hogweed is a phototoxic plant. The sap from all parts of the Giant Hogweed causes a phytophotodermatitis when the sap gets onto your skin. At first the skin will turn red and become itchy: then once the skin is exposed to sunlight or UV rays the sap will cause deep blisters. These blisters can form black or purplish scars that can last for several years. Even a tiny amount of the sap in the eyes can cause temporary to permanent blindness.
Because of the significant Human Health Risk researchers should be aware of this plant and how to recognize it. Below are some useful sites on what the plant looks like and how to recognize the giant hogweed plant from other plants that appear similar:
The next link shows how the BC government is trying to control the spread of Giant Hogweed in the Lower Mainland areas. This site is useful in that you will need suitable safety gear to protect yourself if you attempt to remove this plant.
Workplace BC: http://www2.worksafebc.com/Publications/Multimedia/Videos.asp?ReportID=34980
If you should come into contact with the sap from a Giant Hogweed plant, below is a link with information regarding the medical treatment.
Giant Hogweed First Aid treatment
To summarize, field researchers need to know what the Giant Hogweed plant looks like and take measures to not come into contact with this plant. The Giant Hogweed plant is found in many provinces and in many States. The Giant Hogweed plant has also been relocated to many other countries so researchers can expect to find this plant worldwide.