Do not touch this plant! Officials warn of giant hogweed's burn, blindness threat Giant hogweed, now federally classified as a noxious weed, has been found in Virginia for the first time, the Massey Herbarium at Virginia Tech announced last week. At least 30 plants were found at a site in Clarke County. These plants had previously been found growing in other states in the Mid-Atlantic and New England — including in New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts — and in the Pacific Northwest in Oregon and Washington. The US Department of Agriculture's website shows it has also been found in Michigan and Illinois. Several plants are often confused with giant hogweed, including cow parsnip, angelica, Queen Anne's lace, wild parsnip, and poison hemlock. If you happen to find giant hogweed out in the wild, don't take a weed wacker to it, as it can dangerously spray the sap around. There are specific procedures to ensure the plants are killed and certain herbicides legal for use by a licensed pesticide applicator. If you or someone you know brushes against one of these plants, experts recommend immediately washing the affected area with soap and cold water and keeping it out of the sun for at least 48 hours. (The reaction can begin within 15 minutes of exposure.) If you think you've been burned by a reaction after coming into contact with giant hogweed, see a physician immediately. Topical steroids can reduce the severity of the burns. If sap gets into your eyes, rinse them and wear sunglasses. After a burn, skin can be especially sensitive to sun exposure for several years.