The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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Neighborhoods Farm

July 6, 2014

Extension Talk

Updates on Azalea leaves and Giant Hogweed

Happy 4th of July Week Ashtabula County! We just finished a great camping week yesterday morning at 4-H Camp Whitewood in Windsor.

We had a sold-out 4-H camp with 195 campers and youth counselors. Watch next week’s column as I will recap our week.

On the farm front, we have had our fill of rain and this nice weekend is allowing farmers to get some hay made, finally!

Today, I would like to update you on some recent calls to our office on Giant Hogweed and some strange looking Azalea leaves.

During the past two weeks, our Extension office has received multiple calls about Giant Hogweed. As many of you know, Ashtabula County has been the hot-bed for Giant Hogweed for the state of Ohio for about 10 years now.

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a majestic plant which reaches a mature height of 6 to 12 feet with a distinct umbrella shaped flower head.

While this plant is beautiful, it can be very harmful. When folks come into direct contact with the sap present in the seeds, foliage or stems, they may react with skin and eye irritation.

Sunlight “activates” the dermatitis reaction causing it to create painful blisters that may scar.  Contact with eyes can cause temporary or even permanent blindness.

People are encouraged not to touch or try to remove giant hogweed without proper protection (gloves, long sleeves, long pants and safety glasses).

I recommend never touching the plant with your bare hands and keep in mind that the sap can persist on mowers, string trimmers, tools and gloves.

If you think you have come into contact with hogweed, or any of its relatives, you should wash the area with soapy water immediately and keep the affected area away from sunlight for 48 hours.

Wash clothing and tools in hot water and detergent before using again.

We have a hot pocket of Giant hogweed in Pierpont, but for the most part, people are seeing other Ohio native weeds such as angelica, cow parsnip and poison hemlock. This means, proper identification is key.

More information can be found in a factsheet I wrote for Ohio State at: Michigan State University also has a good publication which shows the pictures of look-alikes.

This publication can be found at:  If you are concerned about a particular plant, send a high quality digital image to me at for identification.

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