Beware of the Burning, Scarring, Blindness-Causing Giant Hogweed


Ladies and gentlemen, New York is at war.

The enemy is Giant Hogweed, by all accounts the most terrifying and malevolent plant in the universe. Specimens can grow as tall as 21 feet, and toxins in their sap, combined with exposure to sunlight, can cause blistering so severe that it leaves gruesome black scars for years afterward. Get it in your eyes, and you’ll probably go blind.

Giant Hogweed isn’t native to New York, but it’s doing its best to take over. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is calling on all citizens to report any sightings of the poisonous menace. The botanical assault is concentrated in the western part of the state, but the state intelligence has identified forward units encroaching as close to the City as Putnam and Nassau counties.

Giant Hogweed’s war on humanity is best documented — of course, duh — by prog-rockers Genesis, in their thorough and astoundingly unlistenable 1971 opus “Return of the Giant Hogweed”:

Long ago in the Russian hills,
A Victorian explorer found the regal Hogweed by a marsh,
He captured it and brought it home.
Botanical creature stirs, seeking revenge.
Royal beast did not forget.
He came home to London,
And made a present of the Hogweed to the Royal Gardens at Kew….
Fashionable country gentlemen had some cultivated wild gardens,
In which they innocently planted the Giant Hogweed throughout the land.
Botanical creature stirs, seeking revenge.
Royal beast did not forget.
Soon they escaped, spreading their seed,
Preparing for an onslaught, threatening the human race.

If the burn-photos didn’t cause you enough discomfort for the day, you can listen to Peter Gabriel and an unrecognizably hairy Phil Collins run through a full live version of their Giant Hogweed treatise here: