The city said if any residents have identified giant hogweed to report it to the Northwest Invasive Plant Council at: 1-888-933-3722 or through the Report a Weed online application. (stock photo Pixabay)

City reminding residents how to identify hogweed from cow parsnip

Cow parsnip, a native plant to Prince Rupert, and giant hogweed cause adverse reactions to the skin

The City of Prince Rupert is warning residents about a toxic weed that can burn the skin.

Councillor Barry Cunningham raised the issue to council at their July meeting, after hearing several reports that giant hogweed, a white flowered weed, was causing severe burns and skin lesions for residents.

Giant hogweed has never been positively identified in the city however, cow parsnip, a plant in the same family which also causes burns but less severe, is native in Prince Rupert, said the city.

The city sent out a public notice to residents to beware of cow parsnip and how to identify it from hogweed.

READ MORE: Council briefs: Mayor scheduling multi-stakeholder meeting to save Alaska ferry, beware of hogweed

The primary difference between the species is size, leaf shape, and the severity of burns. Giant hogweed is three to five metres tall with a stem of three to 10 centimetres in diameter. Leaves are lobed and deeply cut, appearing similar to a hand and fingers whereas cow parsnip looks more like a maple leaf.

The city said if any residents have identified giant hogweed to report it to the Northwest Invasive Plant Council at: 1-888-933-3722 or through the Report a Weed online application. (photo provided by City of Prince Rupert)

Both plants cause adverse reactions and the city said the best practices for removing it from a property include:

Using gloves, goggles, full length sleeves when touching the plant;

Avoiding the use of tools that can spread the plants seeds, such as lawnmowers and weed whackers;

Leaving the plants to dry out then bagging them before sending to the landfill or burning them;

Covering the exposed root system with material to block out the light;

Treating with pesticide to stop it from spreading;

and avoiding composting any of the plant material, which may cause it to spread.

The city said if any residents have identified giant hogweed to report it to the Northwest Invasive Plant Council at: 1-888-933-3722 or through the Report a Weed online application.

READ MORE: Spread of invasive species in Canada costs billions, changes environment


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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