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Giant hogweed is on the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's "Invasive Plants Early Detection Species" list.

Debra Martin, a program manager with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said officials are formulating a plan to respond to the discovery.

The Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech said it found the plant in Clarke County, Virginia.

Giant hogweed is so unsafe because it releases a sap that contains chemicals called photosensitizing furanocoumarins. Hogweed has been a problem plant in Pennsylvania and NY but had not been seen so far south in the USA, until now, as The Post reported this week. In extreme case, it can cause blindness. The stalks feature thorns and the plant produces large white flower blooms - it's an intimidating plant.

The Giant Hogweed was planted decades ago in Clarke County, Virginia, according to the researchers, and has not spread.

By the mid-1900s, scientists recognized the toxicity of giant hogweed sap, but the weed had already taken root across the Atlantic. "The phototoxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact, with sensitivity peak between 30 minutes and two hours after contact".

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Well, giant hogweed (despite having an ugly name) is actually kind of pretty.

Giant hogweed has previously been found in Michigan, Illinois, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Washington.

Compressed soaked in an aluminum acetate mixture that is available at pharmacy provide relief form skin irritation. "See your physician if you think you have been burned by giant hogweed".

These pesky plants spread when birds and waterways carry seeds to new locations. These can grow for 10 years once they're dropped off, according to published reports. "Check the site and surrounding areas for the next several years for the emergence of any hogweed seedlings or regrowth from previous year's plants". The plant is a native of the Caucasus region of Eurasia, between the Black and Caspian seas.

The unsafe Giant Hogweed recently identified in Virginia was "planted intentionally", according to the Virginia Tech researchers who helped identify the plant.