Once again Giant Hogweed has made local news headlines.  Two boys in Mechosin had a skin reaction and it was initially thought that they had come into contact with invasive Giant Hogweed; it later turned out that they had come into contact with native Cow Parsnip. Read the story here

GH Cowichan

photo credit: A.Millham – Giant Hogweed in the Cowichan Valley

Both plants are from the same family and both can cause a skin reaction, however Cow Parsnip is a native plant which can cause minor skin irritation while invasive Giant Hogweed is much larger and more dangerous; with long-lasting, serious burns, even blindness from contact. CTV recently interviewed Rachelle McElroy, Executive Director of Coastal ISC – watch the CTV video here.  Another video put out by Metro Vancouver Invasive Species Council describes the difference between the two plants.

Cowparsnip leaf 2013Giant hogweed leaf 2013photos: Cow Parsnip leaf on the left and Giant Hogweed deeply lobed and serrated leaf on the right.  Note that the Giant Hogweed leaf can grow to 2.5 meters across (though this is not always the case)

Meanwhile the Friends of French Creek have been battling Giant Hogweed in the Errington/ Combs area for years; working towards eradication.  This dedicated group of volunteers manually remove plants each year, though they often have to go back to old territory before making progress.  Read more about their efforts here

FoFC Hogweedphoto credit: Friends of French Creek

And in Courtenay, a resident wrote in to the local newspaper saying that Giant Hogweed sites have been spotted there.

You can report sightings of the plant to the Coastal ISC’s Hotline.  We recieve numerous reports every year from residents all over Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast; who are looking to identify this dangerous plant and looking for assistance with control methods.  We are able to coordinate treatment when the plant is on crown lands, can provide advice for private land owners as well as do our best to notify land managers.  We also have lots of resources, including photos and video, on our Priority Plants page.

GH flower

photo credit: A.Millham – looking up at at towering Giant Hogweed flowers