Beware Hogweed: The Blistering, Blinding, Backyard Pest

The NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation has issued a severe hogweed warning to all New Yorkers! There's a lot of information here, so let's just get to it.

First of all, hogweed is real. It isn't some figment of J.K. Rowling's imagination that Severus Snape blows in the face of his enemies before making his big getaway. The plant, which has been spreading like hogfire across the state, contains a highly poisonous sap that can cause severe skin and eye irritations — in some cases causing "painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness," according to the DEA website.

Are you afraid yet? Fine! Here's more:

"This plant poses a serious health threat; see your physician if you think you have been burned by giant hogweed. If you think you have giant hogweed on your property, do NOT touch it."

So if any of you happened to have plucked a white blossom for your beloved on a recent countryside promenade, and their flesh proceeded to melt off as they stumbled into the woods and hit a tree, it wasn't because they fell victim to a zombie apocalypse. It was hogweed! Which is way more serious. Now you know. [DEA via NYDN, image via Shutterstock]