What are the plagues that can hit the prairies? While ancient peoples had locusts, we have potato beetles and slugs. We've had hail, we've had flood, and now we have one more thing to worry about: giant hogweed. There's been a lot of talk lately about giant hogweed, which is threatening not only because it is so invasive, but dangerous to our physical health as well.
It sounds like giant hogweed is really something to see, growing up to twenty feet high, with large leaves and a huge flower head that can be three feet across. The plant originates from Asia, and the information that I read said that it was probably brought to North America long ago by someone who thought it would make a great ornamental plant.
But the bad thing about this botanical bully is that it is very invasive, crowding out native plants. Because the roots are shallow, it can cause erosion in certain areas. And getting rid of this problem plant is no easy task. The roots are shallow, but they are big, and if anyone tries to dig it up, they have to wear protective clothing, a mask, and gloves.
(One article said that if you find this weed on your property, do not try to remove it yourself but call in experts who have the right equipment and protective gear.)Wait, there's more. I also read that each plant can produce up to 50,000 seeds which can stay in the soil for up to fifteen years.
As if all that wasn't enough, the plant is dangerous because the plant's toxic sap can burn the skin with painful blisters when it is exposed to sunlight. If the sap comes in contact with your eyes, it can cause severe damage and even blindness. So if you ever do see this noxious weed, run fast and run far and stay away from it. The only thing you should note is the location, so that you can inform your local municipality.
If you do have the unfortunate luck of being in contact with this plant, I read about the following directions, and we should remember them: wash your skin well with soap and water, and get out of the sun immediately to stop the sap from activating.
It sounds like a terrifying plant, doesn't it!
There are some "look-alikes" in the plant world, so you and I must learn to tell the difference. Another article I read said that giant hogweed is sometimes confused with Queen Anne's Lace or wild carrot. But the features that belong to giant hogweed are it's large size, the sharp-edged leaves, and the purple-spotted stem that is covered in prickles.
We should probably read the latest information about this weed, and watch for it, cautiously, from a distance!
Remember, the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society Garden of the Week contest is now on, and you can enter your garden at City Hall. The winner will be determined by a draw, not by judging, so be sure to enter your garden. And the Yorkton in Bloom tour is this week: call Glen at 783-7040 for information on how to take part in this great event.
One more thing, be sure to mark down August 9 and 10 on your calendar, the dates of the 1st Annual Saskatchewan Horticultural Association Provincial Flower and Vegetable Display/ Exhibit at St. Gerard's Parish Complex, Yorkton. Beautiful displays and exhibits, and interesting speakers, too, all open to the public!
Have a good week, be sure to wear a hat, and protect yourself against mosquitoes!