So it's coming folks, established in Putnam and creeping into Northern Westchester and Southern Dutchess, an invasive plant that makes poison ivy look cuddly: giant hogweed.
It's quite a stunning looking plant, I can see why it was imported for ornamental reasons:
But if you go "Hey little kid, want to hold this pretty flower?" you are going to physically scar the kid for life, after a bout of painful blisters, basically cooked skin, and if the kid rubs his eyes, he will go blind. Nice plant. The sap is anti-sunscreen: it destroys your skin and eye's natural protection from sunlight, meaning natural UV rays cook your skin in a matter of minutes (or eyes).
When giant hogweed sap, which contains photosensitizing furanocoumarins, contacts human skin in conjunction with sunlight, it can cause phytophotodermatitis - a serious skin inflammation. In brief, the sap prevents your skin from protecting itself from sunlight which leads to a very bad sunburn. Heat and moisture (sweat or dew) can worsen the skin reaction. The phototoxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact, with sensitivity peak between 30 minutes and two hours after contact.
More fun info: the plant has bristles, like nettles, you just need to rub against it to get a dose. And the phytophotodermatitis effect from the chemicals in this plant destroys your skin and eye's protective mechanisms for years. Meaning if you get this stuff on your skin or in your eyes, you need to wear dark sunglasses or UV skin protection for the long term future, or... WARNING, GRAPHIC PHOTOS:
What a nasty new neighbor. Warn anyone hiking or cleaning brush in the area.And if you see any, report it, before it gets more established in our area: