Dangerous plant removed from mid-Michigan yard - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Dangerous plant removed from Mid-Michigan yard

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CLINTON COUNTY (WJRT) -

(06/14/12) - A Mid-Michigan family thought it was growing a beautiful and exotic plant in front of its house. But after they found out what it was, they called for help to have it removed.

It's called giant hogweed. A family member grew one and Kim Huguelet admired it.

"We thought it was beautiful and we thought 'Hey, can we have a starter of that?' And she said, 'I'll just give you the seeds from the flowers on top,'" said Kim Huguelet, homeowner.

That was about three years ago. It grew to be about 10 feet tall with beautiful flowers. But then, "My daughter's boyfriend came over and said 'That's a giant hogweed. You've got to get rid of that,'" Huguelet said.

"This particular family called me the moment they found out what it was," said Peter Carrington, a Michigan State University botanist.

That's because it produces toxins on the surface of the plant. If it gets in the eyes it could cause blindness. If it touches your moist skin and there's sunlight, you could get horrible blisters.

"When it goes away, which might take months, it leaves, especially for light-skinned folks, brown pigmented rings on your skin," Carrington explained.

Giant hogweed is native to Asia and is considered a invasive species in Michigan.

"As a toxic plant specialist, I have been searching for this plant a long time," Carrington said. 

And Carrington says it's at the top of the list of prohibited weeds both on a state and federal level.

"Technically, it was illegal to possess this plant," he said.

After carefully photographing the plant, Carrington donned a protective suit and cut it to pieces. Some of the material will be kept for research at MSU. As for the others pieces, "They ultimately will get dehydrated and safely burned," Carrington said.

The Huguelet family will consider planting something safer, like tulips.

"We were afraid to attempt it ourselves. I'm just glad it's gone," Huguelet said.

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