Giant hogweed

 Caution: Giant Hogweed is a dangerous weed. Its leaves and stem contain a clear, watery sap that is highly toxic. If you get any of this weed’s sap on your skin, you will notice the following symptoms within 48 hours:

  • Blisters
  • Burns
  • Possible scarring
  • Hypersensitivity to sunlight

Giant hogweedWhat giant hogweed looks like

Giant hogweed is a weed that can grow up to 6 metres high when in flower.

It has:

  • A large, umbrella-shaped head that can grow up to 60 cm in diameter
  • Lots of small, white flowers on the head
  • A hollow, rigid, green stem which may have dark red or purple spots on it
  • Dark green, coarsely toothed leaves

How to get rid of giant hogweed

To remove a giant hogweed plant:

  • Wear heavy, water-proof gloves, and water-proof coveralls or clothing that leaves no skin exposed. We also recommend wearing eye protection.
  • Remove lower branches to clear a safe path to the main stem.
  • Remove flower heads when main stem is clear to prevent seed growth and dispersal.
  • Use a sharp shovel to sever the plant taproot 8 to 12 cm below the surface of the soil.
  • Put the plant (all leaves, stem and head) in a doubled up garbage bag.
  • Put the doubled up garbage bag in the garbage. 
  • Do not put giant hogweed in your Green Bin or backyard composter.

What to do if you come in contact with giant hogweed

If you accidentally come in contact with giant hogweed sap, you should:

  • Wash the exposed area carefully with soap and water.
  • Keep the area away from sunlight for at least 48 hours.
  • Consult a doctor if a rash or blisters develop.

WorkSafe BC recommends that you should apply an anti-inflammatory cream such as 0.05% hydrocortisone cream to reduce any skin irritation from giant hogweed exposure.

Report a hogweed problem

If you find hogweed:

  • On City property or in parks, phone 3-1-1.
  • On your own property, contact a private gardening service to remove the hogweed.
  • Encroaching onto your property from a neighbour's property, cooperate with your neighbour and contact a private gardening service to remove the hogweed.

Need more information or assistance? Contact the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver.