There are lots of things to love about Central New York spring and summer. The warm temps (if you ignore the current heat wave), beautiful sunsets and outdoor activities galore from the water to the trails. One thing not to like? Giant Hogweed season.

Just like annual flowers and the leaves on the tree, Giant hogweed plants begin flowering across the state. The NY Department of Environmental Conservation warns residents to not touch them. This plant will make poison ivy seem like a walk in the park.

Giant hogweed is a very large, non-native, invasive plant whose sap can cause painful burns and scarring.

Calamine lotion won't do much to help relieve the pain the sap from this plant can cause. It stands between seven to fourteen foot tall with broad leaves sometimes spanning nearly five feet in width. Other characteristics include purple splotches on the stem with white coarse hairs.

Credit - NYS DEC
Photo Credit - Bob Kleinberg/NY DEC

It's tricky properly identifying the Giant Hogweed plant, because there are several look-alikes.  Wild Parsnip, Cow Parsnip, and Angelica can also cause burns, but not nearly as bad as Hogweed. Here are some of the look-alikes.

Credit - NYS DEC
Credit- NYS DEC
Credit - NYS DEC

Where possible, the DEC eradicates Hogweed not located on private property or with a property owner's permission. If you have spotted a plant in the wild, the DEC asks you to snap photos of flowers, leaves, and stem and email it to: for confirmation.

Read more about Giant Hogweed and similar looking plants at the DEC's website.

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