RALEIGH, N.C.–Recent news stories about giant hogweed have raised awareness of this nasty invader. Yes, we have giant hogweed in NC but thankfully there are only a few known infestations and the NCDA is working to eradicate those plantings. Giant hogweed is a very impressive plant reaching heights of over 6 feet with leaves over 3 feet long and a huge flower head — up to 20 inches in diameter.
But the sap of this plant contains chemicals that can cause SEVERE skin rashes. There are several similar species on North Carolina roadsides that may look similar from a distance, but do not grow as large as giant hogweed.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has produced an excellent web site on giant hogweed identification that includes information about similar species. Check it out at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/39809.html.
If you think you have spotted giant hogweed in North Carolina, please contact your local NC Department of Agriculture Representatives or your local Cooperative Extension Service office.
—Dr. Joe Neal, N.C. State University