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Group warns of hogweed spread

Posted 5/3/19

Partners of the St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario - Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management will again be busy controlling Giant Hogweed plants in the eastern Lake Ontario region.  The …

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Group warns of hogweed spread

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Partners of the St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario - Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management will again be busy controlling Giant Hogweed plants in the eastern Lake Ontario region. 

The plant looks like oversized Queen Anne’s Lace. It grows between 8 to 10 feet tall with two-inch thick stems resembling bamboo, produces flowers two feet in diameter and leaves that are deeply lobed and up to three feet across. There are several look-alikes, but giant hogweed always produces a white flower and has both small white hairs and purple blotches on the stem. The plant is native to southern Russia and was intentionally introduced into New York around 1906 by botanists who collected seeds from overseas.

Among local instances of Giant Hogweed, in the Town of Lee it has been found in two separate locations on Capron Road including one last year and the other a few years before that, said town Highway Superintendent William Baker. He also noted that some was found near the Lee Center firehouse about 15-20 years ago.

According to PRISM Coordinator, Rob Williams, “Giant Hogweed poses a serious threat to anyone who comes into contact with the sap from the plant. The sap, combined with sunlight, creates a photosensitive reaction on human skin which can cause serious burns and blisters and eventual scarring.”

Williams adds “due to the biology of this plant, it is possible to eradicate local populations of Giant Hogweed — since the beginning of the program in 2011 our partners have eradicated over 20 sites across the region with an additional seven sites pending. It is our hope that by the end of this summer, we will have eradicated 64 percent of a giant hogweed sites in the region.”

Techniques used to control this plant include; cutting the root of the plant just below the ground surface, applying herbicides and removing the flowering seed head just before seed drop. 

For more information, go online to www.sleloinvasives.org. To report a sighting, call the state hotline at 845-256-3111.

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