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Horticulture/Giant hogweed toxicity

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Question
Hi,

My facebook has been a buzz recently with a news video claiming that the plant "giant hogweed" is incredibly toxic, can cause blindness and causes painful blisters on your skin.

Is it true that this plant is that dangerous?

Answer
Hi KMJ,

Yes, it is.  Heracleum mantegazzianum causes a photosensitivity that can last for months.  There are other plants that can be as bad, though.  The Manchineel tree (Hippomane Manchinella) was used as a method of torture by some of the Carib natives.  Just to walk under it after a rain can blind you permanently.  

You can find photos on the web of the injuries inflicted by hog parsley, as well as much information about the plant.
Thanking you,

Susan Tabor

Horticulture

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Susan Tabor

Expertise

Entomology,plant pathology, agronomy, native plants, useful and edible plants,medicinal plants,landscape design and installation, plant taxonomy and identification, cultivars and varieties, Botany, nutrient deficiencies, plant recommendations and troubleshooting.

Experience

35 years as a professional horticulturist and landscape contractor. I have a network of contacts at leading universities and with acknowledged experts in the field. I've restored the landscapes of several plantations, 2 Governors mansions and owned/managed 3 nursery/garden centers. I discovered a new subspecies of Emelia in 1997. I've locally introduced several native or volunteer species into mainstream landscape design.

Publications
Morning Advocate The Register Better Homes and Gardens All Experts - Approx 1996-97

Education/Credentials
Louisiana State University - horticulture David L. Hoffman - California - phytotheraphy

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