The local New York news stations are going sensational on this, claiming the plant causes blisters and blindness which is possible but surely uncommon. They act like this is a Triffid invasion:
ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York State environmental officials are trying to nip a huge, dangerous plant in the bud.
The giant hogweed, a monster plant with flowers the size of umbrellas and sap that causes blisters and blindness, is spreading across New York. The Department of Environmental Conservation is asking for help locating outbreaks.
The agency has set up a hotline at 845-256-3111 for people to call and report sightings of the invasive species. Callers are asked to provide photos and site information, but should avoid touching the plant.
This is DEC’s fourth year of controlling giant hogweed.
Six crews totaling 14 people will visit most of the 944 known giant hogweed sites. Sites with less than 400 plants will be controlled by hand cutting their roots; sites with more than 400 plants will be controlled with herbicide.
The plant has been spotted in Nassau and Putnam counties.
Hogweed is an invasive species that is quickly spreading. This site has some good photos of the plant. Here’s the New York DEC’s page on the plant. Here’s an rare photo of a giant hogweed when angered: