back to article New Yorkers battle giant blindness-causing plants

Authorities in New York State have warned residents to keep a sharp look-out for the giant hogweed – the alien invader from the Caucasus Mountains which has the power to cause "severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness". A giant hogweed. Pic: Department of Environmental Conservation …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Beaten to the Genesis reference.

    I don't know about you, but it's where I learned all about them!

    [And from coming up in a nasty rash after running around hitting friends with stems during an innocent childhood]

    1. MarkB

      Double Darnit

      Beaten to the Genesis reference and to complaining about being beaten to it...

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Strike by night!

        They are defenseless...

      2. FuzzyTheBear

        Beaten again

        And on top of that beaten by a complainer who complains about being beat. Im beat ;)

        Time for several pints.

  2. Ed 16


    It's a triffid!

  3. Stgeli

    Nasty but beautiful

    We have a large amount of this in the bottom part of the gully alongside our rear garden that leads down to the river. It's magnificent stuff really and looks like something that should be in a Victorian hot house.

    Horribly invasive and non native means that annually I chop out the plants near to my lawn and lop the flower heads off the rest to limit its progress up the gully. I hate doing it as I think they are wonderful specimens but they will destroy all the native plants that are already there.


  4. Stratman


    Sadly, just being pretty is no reason to arbitrarily introduce foreign flora and fauna.

    Around my neck of the woodsm (Surrey/SW London) the ring-necked parakeet has become very well established to the detriment of a beautiful native bird, the green woodpecker. They both like nesting in tree holes but the parakeet is far more agressive and generally wins the battle for the site. I have noticed a decline in the numbers of woodpeckers, but a huge increase in the noisy, bud stripping but pretty parakeet.

  5. Hugh Pumphrey

    Turn and run ...

    In addition to hearing the song, younger readers should check out this concert footage: ... and observe that LadyGaga did not invent the "bat poo insane" style of popular music performance.

    The awful warning did little good, mind you, the plant is everywhere, including the patch of unused land next to my garden.

  6. BoldMan

    Ahh the memories

    I remember the Giant Hogweed scare of the 70s, we found one of them growing in the school grounds and like a raving pack of Lord of the Flies extras we chopped it down and dug up the root.

    Thanks for the Genesis link :)

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    The War On Giant Hogweed (WOGH) is on!

    Why is this suddenly a problem?

    Oh yeah, bin Laden is dead. Need something new.

  8. Rafael 1

    Shame on you!

    There is *nothing* on this article about blindness-causing pants... oh, wait.

  9. John I'm only dancing

    Junction 3 sliproad westbound, M55 in Lancashire

    It would appear the battle there has already been lost, these giants try to invade my car daily as I negotiate the testing terrain.

  10. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Ah yes!

    When I was finally allowed out on my own about the age of 8 around '79, because we lived out in the country I well remember my Mum giving me a lecture about Giant Hogweed and the Triffid-like qualities it possesed! Suitably lectured my mates and I headed out in to the fields specifically to find the damn stuff!

  11. Secret geek

    Where's my flame thrower?

    Just in case Genesis decide to do a remake.


    What problem?

    Just get out the lab goggles, some cleaning gloves, and a meat cleaver.

    As someone else said... go "lord of the flies" on these things.

    It's as if the authorities don't realize that there are plenty of household chemicals that can irritate your skin or blind you if you're not careful.

  13. K. Adams

    This has so-bad-it's-good, cult-status ...

    ... B-movie material written all over it.

    Maybe a film where the Killer Tomatoes of yesteryear return, and mobilise to rid New York of the foreign invaders?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Fine words, but, er, no parsnips

      I think they're more like giant parsnips than killer tomatoes.

    2. Phil 54

      Thank you very much...

      now I've got the fricken theme song stuck in my head!

      Aaataaack of the killer tomAAAtoes!!

  14. Jim 59


    Some of these on the banks of the River Wear near Chester-le-Street. The trunks are 2 inches or more in diameter, and quite woody. Every so often the council tries to napal them from orbit, judging by the results. Going "medieval" with an axe would be no easy task, and could spray the deadly sap around. Meanwhile another hogweed would creep up behind you.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't blame the Triffids...

    If I recall correctly (it has been years since I read the book), the blindness was caused by some sort of green meteor swarm, which the narrator muses might have been some form of satelite-based weapon.

    The triffids (genetically engineered plants, way back then...) then escaped from their fields and started eating people.

    I really ought to get a life sometime...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      The triffids were guilty too

      They aim for the eyes with their stingers, so even if the poison doesn't manage to kill you, they can blind you, and thus have a better chance of finishing you off later.

      I've got one at the bottom of my garden. I feed it Jehovah's Witnesses and double-glazing salesmen. So far it seems to be happy enough with those, and hasn't shown any signs of taking over the world.

      1. Daniel 4

        Triffids mostly killed the already blind....

        and then ate the decomposing corpses. Carnivorous genetically modified plants, yum!


        P.S. At least, in the book they did. I never did make it through more than 5 minutes of the movie...

        1. Steven Roper

          Don't bother watching either of the movies

          as they're made by Hollywood, which means the only thing they have in common with the book is the title and having walking man-eating plants.

          Instead, take the time to hunt down the 1981 English-produced 6-part miniseries. It is absolutely true to the book, right down to the dialogue; you can practically sit there with the book in your lap following along. It's the only instance I've ever seen where a screen conversion follows the book exactly without adding or taking away anything. Hollywood would do well to take a leaf out of this book considering their track record of butchering books.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            1981 BBC mini-series

            I managed to sneak downstairs and watch some of this when I was way too young. I had nightmares for ages. I blame the parents...

            I dug that series out last year (someone had posted all 6 episodes on YouTube), but I think I spotted it on SeeSaw more recently. It wasn't bad at all, but the special effects were astonishing!

            Sadly, astonishingly poor. They must have had absolutely zero budget. They seemed to have a total of about 1 minute of triffid shots of extremely poor quality, which they spliced in different orders throughout the series. If you can get past that, it still stands up OK.

            Didn't the BBC have another go at it last year?

      2. Bobster

        RE: The triffids were guilty too

        That's useful... I can throw a few politicians and lawyers your way if you'd like?

  16. mhoulden

    One time....

    ...I saw a giant hog weed in my garden. Filthy creature.

  17. James Gosling


    What next, invasion of the Triffids?

  18. rvt

    Better then....

    @Stgeli: This plans is in holland for as long as I can remember. You can cut it every year down to the ground and it will grow back next year. it's common practice..

    This are amazing plants, and I think good for nature. Good hideout for all sorts of animals, at least better for animals then golfcourt style mowed lawns...

  19. Brian Miller

    Sap turns you into a vampire

    OK, not quite, but your skin will become hypersensitive to sunlight. Get the sap on you and you'll wind up with horrible sun burns. I looked it up, and the stuff is in my state too, and looks quite similar to an innocuous, and much smaller, native plant. If you want to go medieval on it, be sure to wear your HalfLife hazmat suit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Kinda like an anti-sunscreen?

      That would be cool. For all those white skinned tourists invading the Algarve we now have anti-sunblock SPF -35 to speed up the burning process.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Ornamental gardeners

    I say we kill all ornamental gardeners before they do any more damage.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    an easy way to rapidly wipe this invasive species out with minimum expense

    start rumors amongs the chavs and punks that you can get a wicked high by smoking this stuff. Then make sure to do an official campaign about how dangerous it really is. This will convince the entitled little b@stards that the denial is a Conspiracy by "Da Man" and make 'em want to get more. Keep the rumor mills afloat with stories of how "cool" it is to do the stuff and the "rebellion" involved.

    It'll be extinct in a few years. And if the effects of smoking the stuff is lethal, you sort out two problems. Darwin/win situation.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      I salute you - Mr Anonymous Troll

      For the use of "Darwin/win situation".

  22. kain preacher

    This stuff is nasty

    A few gallons of agent orange should do the trick.

  23. Mike VandeVelde

    "Attack of the Giant Hogweed"

    Love the organ intro:

    (warning: contains burn examples)

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Aand the HV hobbyists fix is..

    Hand held Tesla Coil with external ground, applied to said weeds via a long prod.

    Bursts all the cell walls right through the root system. Byebye noxious weed.

    Plus it is a non chemical contact kill method so doesen't affect any other plants nearby.

    AC. because the makers of Roundup will probably have me poloniumed for posting this :-)

    1. Getter lvl70 Druid

      Roundup sucks

      Go to any farmer's co-op and buy 24-4-D - yeah sure it's in an unmarked jug with MSDS sheets attached and no advertising of any sort, but will kill anything that grows in your gravel driveway or anywhere else you want moonscape. Good stuff, has agent orange in it and just be careful getting it on you while filling up your sprayer - burns just a bit. About $40 for 2.5 gallons.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Thanks for the tip

        I've been wondering how to get rid of weeds since they banned Sodium Chlorate for being too cheap. Roundup and similar are expensive and almost completely ineffective.

  25. Dave 32
    Thumb Up


    I think you mean 2,4-D. It's great stuff!,4-D

    My mom was complaining about dandelions in her yard one year. So, I showed up with a sprayer loaded with 2,4-D. The next month, she was complaining about the craters in her yard. ;-)


  26. Anonymous Coward

    Used PCB etchant

    Kills every known weed, but don't use it near a water catchment area.

    Plus it also stops the weeds coming back, because the copper is deadly poisonous to them.

    AC, because the enviro-whiners will have me shot!

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