Exposing your children to the beauty of plants in the natural world is a great way to teach them to appreciate the planet and its myriad life forms. But, there are certain plants that can do quite a bit of harm if your skin touches them or if you ingest them, so you also need to teach your kids which plants are off-limits. Hogweed is one such plant.

What’s the Latest News on Hogweed in the U.S.?

According to WebMD, experts in Virginia have told parents that they should be aware of a dangerous plant known as giant hogweed, an invasive plant species. If you thought poison ivy was bad, wait until you hear about what giant hogweed can do.

Here are a few things that you should know about hogweed to protect yourself and your children:

• It gets big. In fact, it can get as tall as 14 feet.
• It displays attractive blooms, but you shouldn’t go near it.
• The toxic sap that hogweed produces can cause your skin to blister, it can result in 3rd degree burns, and it could even lead to blindness if it gets in your eyes.

Where Is Hogweed Found?

Virginia is yet another state added to the list of areas in the country where hogweed has been reported. Other states include New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Illinois, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Oregon. Wow!

Because the government has dubbed this a noxious weed that’s harmful not only to people, but also to the environment, you won’t find it being freely sold and bought. That’s good news!

Know How to Identify Hogweed

Knowing hogweed when you see it will help you protect your kids. Look up images of hogweed, and keep the following in mind:

• The sap will cover the entire plant, especially the stem and leaves
• There will be a green stem with coarse white hairs and purple splotches on it
• The flower clusters will be umbrella shaped, white, and up to 2½ feet wide
• The leaves are large and incised, and up to 5 feet big

What If You End Up Touching Hogweed?

Finally, knowing what to do if you or your child is exposed to hogweed is imperative. Start by washing the skin with soap and cold water right away. Avoid exposure to sunlight. If in the eyes, rinse the sap out with cold water right away and put on a pair of sunglasses. After these first aid measures are complete, contact your doctor immediately.