MANORVILLE - The state Department of Environmental Conservation is warning Long Island residents to be wary of giant hogweed – a large, non-native invasive plant whose sap can cause burns, permanent scarring and blindness.
Giant hogweed is a federally listed noxious weed that can grow up to 14 feet tall. Its white flowers clusters can grow about 2 feet wide.
The DEC says it has greatly reduced the number of plants at many sites throughout New York over the past nine years.
Joel Litvin, of Manorville, told News 12 that he had no idea about the danger of giant hogweed when he planted it at his home 15 years ago.
"I wish I never got involved in it. That's for sure," says Litvin.
Last month, state workers cut down 45 plants on his property. On Wednesday morning, Litvin found two new plants.
The DEC has already reported the presence of the new plants at Litvin's property and told News 12 that someone will be coming out to dig them up.
"Each seed pod can contain up to 20,000 seeds and they remain viable for many years in the soil," says DEC Supervision Forester John Wernet.
According to the DEC, giant hogweed currently has been identified in 45 counties in New York. It is most prevalent in Central and Western New York.
Officials are urging residents who may have giant hogweed on their property to call the DEC.