A dangerous plant has been identified in Calhoun County

CALHOUN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Calhoun County Public Health Department warns Giant Hogweed has been found in the area.

Giant hogweed looks pretty but even Mother Nature can be deceiving.

"It's not deadly but it can certainly cause you an awful lot of discomfort," says Paul Makoski. Calhoun County's Environmental Health Director says touching this plant, can leave you bruised and burned.

"If it were to get on your skin, it's photo reactive meaning that in sunlight it starts to burn. You can have fluid little filled vesicles on your skin. Sometimes that can take 24-48 hours to develop," says Makoski. But what happens is there's almost that possibility that they can develop into permanent purple of black scars on your skin."

It can even blind you if it gets into your eyes. Hogweed can grow 18-feet tall and is usually found mixed in with other plants.

Bob coward spotted the plant on the side of the road in Calhoun County and removed it.

"It's a very beautiful plant but it's definitely not something that you want to get into," says Coward.

Coward says he's also seen hogweed in Vicksburg.

"It likes to grow at the edge of a swamp is where it typically grows--in wet areas. It's very distinctive when you see it because it's got that great big white flower on the top," says Coward.

While the flower might be tempting to touch, health officials are hoping you'll leave it alone and give them a call.

"It's fairly easy to eradicate once you figure out what it is but if you try to cut it down and you don't know what you're doing, it's going to hurt you," says Coward.

Hogweed can be confused with the harmless Queen Anne's Lace and Cow Parsnip.

Queen Anne's Lace has tiny, red flower in the center and a solid green stem.

Cow Parsnip has a ridged, solid green stem covered in white hairs.

MSU has more about other plants mistaken for Giant Hogweed here.

For more facts visit the DNR's website.

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