Back in the days when I was commuting back and forth to Great Barrington from Connecticut, the scenic route not only provided a pleasant backdrop but it also saved me a little bit of time in the process. Naturally, I had to be alert of the twists and turns on 57 which took me to the junction of 23 (and there were plenty of them) but much to my chagrin, there was an invasive plant that lurked in the heart of Granville. Fortunately, I kept away from said greenery, but others suffered some consequences along the way.

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Reports indicate sap from the giant hogweed can lead to significant health issues as direct contact with skin and could result in large, liquid filled blisters. Three sites in Granville have been known to cause some residents to be infected and the problem has also been discovered in other parts of the Bay State. Here is what you have to look out for as proper precautions must be taken to protect yourself:

The plant (pictured above) has the shape of an umbrella up to 2 and a half feet in diameter. It can grow anywhere between 8 and 15 feet in height. look out for a series of fibrous roots with hollow stems that measure 2 to 4 inches in diameter as additional markings including coarse white hairs and dark purple splotches are giveaways in keeping your distance. By all means, DO NOT pick oval dry fruit that grows amidst the plants as they measure only three eighths of an inch with rounded and marginal ridges.

It is also to keep your four legged friends away from this toxic plant as photo dermititis and photo sensitivity is prevalent to both dogs and cats. Avoid putting this plant near your eyes as the end result could lead to temporary or even permanent blindness. Hyper pigmentation could last up to a year. To avoid further problems, carefully remove ALL seeds which will reduce reproduction and it is mandatory that you wear protective gloves to prevent further infection.

If you spot hogweed plants, report them immediately to The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources by logging on to their web site.

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