Toxic plant that causes severe burns and blindness found in North Carolina

- Giant hogweed, a toxic plant can cause third degree burns to the skin and blindness, has been found in six sites around Blowing Rock, according to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

The invasive plant was discovered in North Carolina in 2010 and is only found in Watauga County. 

The sap from its leaves is poisonous and causes severe burns to the skin, even blindness. The toxic chemicals found in the sap, known as photosensitizing furanocoumarins, react with a person’s skin when exposed to light.

The reaction causes painful blisters that can form within 48 hours and result in scars that last anywhere from a few months to six years.

The weed isn’t called giant for nothing. It can grow up to 15 feet tall and sprout enormous leaves and flower clusters. The problem is it looks pretty, which is why Europeans brought it over from Asia to display in their gardens.

According to the Department of Ecological Conservation, the toxic plant can also be found in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and parts of West Virginia.

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