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Beware the Giant Hogweed, Fairfield County

A towering, invasive plant called the giant hogweed that can burn skin and eyes, and which has been found in Fairfield County, is causing renewed concern in the region.

In the past decade, the plant has been spotted in Fairfield, Greenwich, Wilton and other parts of Connecticut. New York's Department of Environmetnal Conservation is warning residents there about the plant that can grow more than 12 feet tall and "cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness."

Residents who try to cut or mow hogweed risk getting hurt by the sap, says a University of Connecticut horticulture website . The sap can cause blisters within two days and the plant's juices can produce ugly scars that can last years, the site says.

Giant plants, of course, are easy to spot and avoid. Gregory M. Plunkett, a researcher writing on the Plant Talk blog of the New York Botanical Garden, notes that sunlight activates the toxin.

"Avoid exposure to the plant, especially its sap," Plunkett writes, "by wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and protective eyewear in areas where giant hogweed grows, and avoid exposure of your skin to the sun for the next few days if you do accidentally touch it."

Cutting the plant is ineffective because of its ability to regrow quickly, University of Connecticut site says. Residents who think they have spotted giant hogweed can call a hotline at 860-486-6448.

Have you seen this plant? Having trouble with any other invasive species?

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