Don't Touch Me: Plants to Avoid


Country MoonWeeds. Usually, they are just an annoying part of our summer life. Sometimes, like in the case of dandelions, they can rise above annoying and actually contribute to our well-being. Then, sometimes they can be the complete opposite and be downright dangerous to us and our pets, thus enter the world of noxious weeds.

Noxious weeds, by definition, are weeds that are considered harmful to the environment or animals, especially one that is the subject of regulations governing attempts to control it.

Most of them are spread by nature. Seeds are carried by the wind, water and wildlife. Humans and pets pick up seeds that stick in the tread of boots and shoes, on clothing and animal fur. Animals’ paws carry seeds near and far. Most noxious weeds have more than one method of propagation. Besides seeds, some send out rhizomes. Species such as knotweed can spread by seeds and fragmentation, just a piece of its root will grow a new plant.

Most noxious weeds were introduced to a region by humans for a certain purpose. Thus, what may be considered a noxious weed in one state or area may not be in another. The Department of Environmental Conservation or the local extension service can provide information on what plants are hazardous in your area.

There has been a lot of buzz lately about one certain plant that is particularly hazardous if people come into contact with it. The culprit is 14 feet tall, green, hairy, covered in toxic sap and is known as giant hogweed. This massive plant causes painful burns, scarring and possible blindness.

Hogweed is native to Asia but naturalists introduced the plant to this country in the 1900’s. Its size and enormous flowers made it desirable for ornamental planting. It remains small for 3 to 5 years and then gains enough energy from its roots to rocket in growth and produce early summer flowers that are one to two feet in diameter and 5-foot wide jagged leaves.

8/7/2019 12:13:45 PM

Thank you, this is the best article I've found yet on this subject, and it explains some of the plants that are giving me red welts and bumps my forearms after I go out weeding. There's a lot of nasty stuff out there besides poison oak! One thing you didn't mention is that thorns can transmit pathogenic bacteria and fungi:

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