Nova Scotia woman warns of run-in with giant hogweed
Published Friday, June 3, 2016 6:05PM EDT
A Nova Scotia woman is sharing her cautionary tale after she says her dogs came into contact with the toxic giant hogweed plant and spread the poison to her.
Coming in contact with giant hogweed, an invasive weed, can cause severe blistering and even blindness.
“My face was so swollen, my lips were out to here, I lost my nose completely,” Wendy Dean told CTV Atlantic, describing how she was covered in welts and blisters on both arms and both sides from her shoulders down to the top of her hips.
Dean’s symptoms have lasted a week. She’s since had the plant removed but is convinced it was giant hogweed.
Marian Munro, a botanist with the Nova Scotia Museum, says the plant comes by its name honestly.
“Giant hogweed's leaves can be a metre long individually. So we are talking a very large plant.”
The plant is believed to have come from Eastern Europe and has since spread across the province and much of Canada.
But Munro cautions that there are other species that look like giant hogweed, including cow parsnip, which can also cause skin blistering but is native to Nova Scotia.
Cow parsnip can grow up to 2 metres while giant hogweed can grow more than double that height.
“I've seen it in the Halifax area certainly topping the electrical wires.”
Giant hogweed has purple prickly stems, which cow parsnip doesn’t.
Dean, who lives in Lunenburg, says people should be aware just how harmful giant hogweed can be.
“If you've got it, get somebody to remove it; somebody who knows how to remove it because they need to be in protective gear.”