Beware: This Innocent Looking Plant Can Make You Go Blind

Public health officials are urging people to be careful after the dangerous plant was found growing on a roadside in Michigan.


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If you thought poison ivy was dangerous, you might want to keep an eye out for this leafy green plant – especially if you live in Michigan.

Health officials in Calhoun County have found the dangerous plant, commonly known as giant hogweed, growing on a roadside near Battle Creek. Even though the public health department immediately removed the plant, they are worried that there might be others growing nearby.

The presence of the tall plant, which belongs to the carrot-family, has alarmed the officials because hogweed can not only cause extreme inflammation and give third-degree burns, the sap on its leaves, roots flower heads, and stem hairs can also cause permanent blindness among humans.


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To make the matters worse, people might not even realize that they have come in contact with the plant because the rashes take over 24 hours to appear.

“It's not deadly, but it can certainly cause you an awful lot of discomfort,” said Calhoun County Environmental Health Director Paul Makoski. “It's photoreactive, meaning that in sunlight it starts to burn. You can have little fluid filled vesicles on your skin. Sometimes that can take 24-48 hours to develop.”

People are also known to confuse it with weeds.

“I saw some weeds in the entryway where I worked, so I stopped and pulled six of them out of the ground by the roots, and within 24 hours, I had developed some blisters,” Missouri woman Marcie Kirkup told KYTV. “By the next morning, my face and nose was swollen, and my face was starting to get a crusty rash on it like a burn.”



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Giant hogweed is a native of the Caucasus region of Eurasia and was ironically brought into the United States for its showy good looks.

The nasty plant can grow up to 18 feet tall, has a green stem with dark red or purple spots, and has white flowers. It’s commonly found along streams and rivers and in fields, forests, yards and roadsides.

Health officials urge people to wash their skin if they come in contact with the plant, and promptly seek medical attention.

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