Health

Plant That Causes Blindness Spotted in Michigan

| by Maura Turcotte

If you have a green thumb, you may want to avoid the beautiful hogweed, unless you want a red, blistered thumb — and possible blindness, reports MyFoxDetroit.

Hogweed is an incredible sight to see — the weed can grow more than 14 feet tall and has green stems with reddish or purplish spots. A spray of alluring white flowers tops the toxic plant, notes CBS News.

Despite its beauty, the giant weed can be more toxic than poison ivy or poison oak. Simply touching the plant can cause severe burning and blistering. If any of the sap gets into the eyes, it can cause sunlight sensitivity or permanent blindness, according to MyFoxDetroit.

"Hogweed has a toxic compound in it that is sun sensitive," Dr. Holly Phillips explained to CBS News. "So if you get the sap on your skin or in your eyes and are then exposed to light, it can cause very serious reactions."

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Giant hogweed has recently come into the spotlight after the plant was spotted in Calhoun County, Michigan. Although the Calhoun County Public Health Department removed the plant from the site in Pennfield Township, health officials have been still advising people to take precautions.

If you come into contact with the plant, officials suggest you immediately wash your skin and flush your eyes with water. Officials also advise you seek further medical attention, MyFoxDetroit reports.

"It's not deadly, but it can certainly cause you an awful lot of discomfort," Calhoun County Environmental Health Director Paul Makoski stated, reports CNN.

Those not in Michigan need to be on the look-out as well: The weed can be found in many parts of the U.S.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, giant hogweed has been found in parts of Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina, Washington and Oregon.

Giant hogweed has proved to be a much bigger problem in the U.K. Just this summer alone five children suffered burns from the plant, CNN reports.

Sources: MyFoxDetroit, CBS News, CNN / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons