Last week I helped to confirm the ID of Virginia’s first population of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) in Clarke County. The Facebook post about it has exploded and made its way all over the internet! We were a small part of the team that identified it–the landowner’s report was made to their local master gardener’s chapter and the local extension agent. They reported the sighting to VT’s Weed Clinic, who asked for my help in ID’ing the plants. Confirmation was also made by botanists at the UNC herbarium, Derick Poindexter and Dr. Alan Weakley.
If you think you have giant hogweed on your property there is actually a good chance that you have the more widespread, native plant cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum). It can still cause a rash but not as severe as giant hogweed. Check this ID guide to see if your plant might be giant hogweed. If you still think you have giant hogweed, take detailed photographs and contact your local extension agent or the Virginia Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.
Please visit this VT News media advisory for details, quotes, and video of me discussing this development!