Residents - due to recent misidentified reports of Giant Hogweed in Prince Rupert, we are providing some information about how to identify Giant Hogweed (invasive) versus Cow Parsnip (native species), and also how to handle Cow Parsnip if/when you come into contact with it. Contact with either plant can lead to adverse skin reactions.
The primary difference between the two species (which are in the same family) is their size, leaf shape, and the general higher severity of burns/skin lesions that can accompany Giant Hogweed as compared to Cow Parsnip (though both are nasty!).
Cow Parsnip is a native species and therefore is not considered invasive. However given the possibility of adverse reaction, please do not touch the plants or ensure you wear appropriate protection when handling it. Best practices for removing it from your property include:
1. Using appropriate protection (gloves, goggles, full length sleeves) when handling the plant;
2. Avoiding the use of lawnmowers and weedwhackers, which may spread the plants secretions and/or seeds;
3. Leaving the plants to dry out once cut back, then bagging them in black plastic bags before sending to the landfill or burning them;
4. Covering the exposed root system with material to block out the light, or treating with pesticide; and,
5. Avoiding composting any of the plant material, which may cause it to spread.
Please note that although Cow Parsnip is common here, Giant Hogweed has never been positively identified in Prince Rupert. If you believe that you have identified Giant Hogweed based on the above description, please report it to the Northwest Invasive Plant Council at: 1-888-933-3722 or through the Report a Weed application, available here: http://www.reportaweedbc.ca/