August 3, 2021
Picture this: you’ve just returned from a wonderful summer hike and suddenly you feel an uncomfortable itch followed by a red rash. These reactions could be symptoms of exposure to an invasive plant species in your region.
Learning how to identify these plants are a proactive measure to keep you safe.
These plants can be found in cool, moist environments such as alongside riverbanks, ditches and railway tracks as well as in large meadows and vacant lots.
Giant Hogweed can grow up to 5 metres tall, displaying white flowers that grow in rounded clusters. Their stems are strong, with extensive and prominent reddish-purple blotches.
The sap of giant hogweed contains toxic substances that are activated by sunlight and also by artificial UV rays. Exposure to light causes inflammation of skin that comes into contact with giant hogweed sap.
If you need to handle the plant, it’s important to cover all parts of your body including your ankles, wrists and neck and to wear eye protection.
Poison ivy is commonly found at the edge of forests and along fences, roads, cliffs, riverbanks and railroads.
It grows as a shrub and some varieties can grow up to a metre tall.
Each branch has 3 pointed leaves with the middle leaf showcasing a longer stem. The leaves are reddish when they appear in the spring and turn green in summer. In the fall they turn different shades of yellow, orange or red.
When skin comes into contact with poison ivy sap, the allergic reaction can be painful. Poison ivy sap that sticks to clothes and tools can be dangerous for a long time. After handling poison ivy, make sure you wash everything that could have come into contact with the plant, including your shoes and laces.
Safety Tips :
- If you are unsure whether you might accidentally come into contact with one of these plants, cover your entire body with non-absorbent protective clothing.
- Protect your eyes and, ideally, your whole face with a face shield.
- If you come into contact with the plant, using mild soap, wash exposed areas with cold water as soon as possible. Avoid hot baths and showers.
- If poison ivy sap has gotten into your eyes, rinse them for 15 minutes under a gentle stream of warm tap water.
- See a healthcare professional if these measures are not enough to relieve your symptoms.
We encourage everyone to follow these simple rules and to take your health and safety to heart!