How to safely slay a giant hogweed

Moira Baird
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Todd Boland said the best way to eradicate the plant is to cut the stem about three or four inches below the ground.

"It will not regenerate from the root ... the plant will die."

April to June is the best time to go giant hogweed hunting - before the plant gets too big or seeds itself.

Todd Boland said the best way to eradicate the plant is to cut the stem about three or four inches below the ground.

"It will not regenerate from the root ... the plant will die."

April to June is the best time to go giant hogweed hunting - before the plant gets too big or seeds itself.

Last year, the Grand Concourse Authority removed about 10 giant hogweeds near a wooden bridge on the Virginia River trail between Kilkenny and Gleneyre streets.

Grand Concourse said it will remove hazardous plants, such as the giant hogweed, if they are growing near the trail. It's contracted by the City of St. John's to carry out maintenance on walking trails.

"You can deal with it yourself. Just be very careful."

Boland warns people to cover up when cutting down the plant: wear heavy gloves, goggles, waterproof clothing and wait for an overcast day.

If the sap gets in your eyes, it can cause temporary, or even permanent, blindness.

"Don't have any of your skin exposed at all to the plant, including your face."

The stem hairs and leaves of the giant hogweed contain a clear, toxic sap that can cause skin to burn, blister and scar. This is especially true on sunny days.

Its phytotoxic sap reacts with sunlight, and burning blisters can form on the skin within 48 hours. Purple or black scars can result.

"After you've dealt with the plant, wash up with soap and water."

Boland recommends disposing of the plant in the garbage; don't compost it.

mbaird@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Grand Concourse Authority

Geographic location: Virginia River, Kilkenny, St. John's

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