Monday, May 6, 2013

Revisiting the Giant Hogweed Infestation - One Year Later...

As discussed in a couple of previous posts, I have an ongoing battle with something called Giant Hogweed.

This post: Last Few Hours

Both blog posts discuss the initial challenges I had and also the "seek and destroy" mission that I am told may be ongoing for a few years yet. I am out looking for seedlings on pretty much a daily basis in the yard - I don't want any to get missed and therefore grow to the point where I will be unable to address the issue myself. 
What I didn't do last year - that I wish I had - was post any pictures of what the seedlings and young plants look like.  The small seedlings have a bright waxy look to the leaves (and so if surrounded by other weeds they actually do stand out) and they are broad and flat in shape with a scalloped look to the edges around the leaf they seem to present with one single leaf to the stalk. 

Young plants look more like the adult plants and start showing the hairy stalk.
If you dig them up, you will notice that they have a root stalk that resembles a parsnip.  Giant Hogweed is a member of the carrot family and so the roots will look something like that. 
When I am on a Hogweed eradication mission (usually I am doing this immediately following a dog poo clean-up mission) I am wearing protective gardening gloves, using a garden hand trowel or a hand-held dandelion digging tool. Don't just pull off the leaf, always dig out the root, and always be very careful in handling the plant no matter what the size.
Giant Hogweed (the Latin name is Heracleum mantegazzianum) which in pictures looks like HUMUNGOUS Queen Anne’s Lace, but in reality is considered to be a pernicious invasive plant, not native to North America and extremely dangerous to humans.  The sap is toxic and sensitizes the skin to ultraviolet radiation - causing third degree burns that come back over and over again, any time you get sunshine on it. If the sap gets into the eyes it can cause blindness - PLEASE take some time to review the information here on the Coastal Invasive Plant Committee website and here on the BC Ministry of Agriculture website.
The seedlings go directly into the bag of waste picked up.  This bag is then tied off and thrown into the garbage can.  NEVER EVER EVER put Giant Hogweed into your compost. NEVER EVER.
Since this is the time of year most gardeners are really getting into the needs of the yard, I thought it wise to offer up the reminder.  Please be aware of what you are pulling out, how you are disposing of it and how to take care of yourself while doing it.  Giant Hogweed is dangerous and needs some extra care when working to eradicate it.
With love across the waters,

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