Giant hogweed found in Butler County

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is warning residents of Forward Township in Evans City, Butler County, that giant hogweed, a noxious and invasive weed that can cause blistering and scarring on the skin of susceptible people, has been confirmed in their area.

Where?

Located along the Pittsburgh/Buffalo railroad tracks at the intersection of Spithaler School and Ash Stop roads, and at the intersection of the tracks and Ash Stop Road, the area with giant hogweed has been identified and marked with Department of Agriculture signage.

Citizens with suspected sightings of the plant are asked to call the giant hogweed hotline at 877-464-9333.

Brochures are available at the Forward Township Municipality Building or here.

“Thanks to a tip on the giant hogweed hotline, the department was able to quickly and accurately identify the infestation,” said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff.

“We encourage local residents to stay away from the infested area as treatment continues, and to report any new sightings so we can act swiftly to stop the spread of the weed.”

Department of Agriculture field staff developed a control program for these areas and treated the plants with an herbicide. Staff will be available to visit with property owners to identify suspected plants present on their land.

Spread

Giant hogweed is spread naturally by seeds, which can be windblown and scattered or carried by water. Because of the close proximity to the railroad tracks, agriculture staff believes the seed heads were carried and dispersed by passing trains, and possibly through a nearby landscape plant dumping site.

In 1999, giant hogweed was discovered about 14 miles west of Evans City in Fombell, Beaver County. Property owners with land adjacent to the railroad tracks between Fombell and Forward Township’s Reibold Road, including along the northern and southern track spurs that connect to the main railroad track in Forward Township, are encouraged to learn how to identify the poisonous plant.

This invasive weed spreads rapidly once established in the area between land and a stream, making prevention of seed production critical to limiting the spread into Forward Township’s nearby Connoquenessing stream.

Agriculture department staff will continue to monitor the sites in Beaver and Butler counties during the next several weeks and continue to treat any new plants that may have emerged.

Since 1985, 477 giant hogweed sites have been confirmed in Pennsylvania.
Since then 203 sites have been eradicated, leaving 274 active sites across the state.

Treatment

As the regulatory agency for the treatment of giant hogweed, the Department of Agriculture has been supported by the Governor’s Invasive Species Council of Pennsylvania, an inter-agency council created by Gov. Edward G. Rendell in 2004 to help develop and implement invasive species management plans for the commonwealth.

For more information on giant hogweed and other noxious weeds in Pennsylvania, click here or call 717-787-7204.

Related article:

Hogweed creeps into northeast Ohio (Aug. 18, 2005)

One Comment

  1. Thank you for this helpful warning. I believe Heracleum mantegazzianum, the giant hogweed, is the nastiest plant there is.

    Just one point. You say ‘can cause blistering and scarring on the skin of susceptible people’. I’ve never come across anyone who isn’t susceptible. The action of giant hogweed is to change the structure of the skin and make it sensitive to UV light. There is a risk that people who are not susceptible to poison ivy will think giant hogweed works the same way.

    Also, it can take years before the UV protection is restored. Unless you keep covered up on sunny days burns can appear long after contact was made with the juice.

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