Being outside in nature can be fun, refreshing, and quite therapeutic. So, in general, stepping outside should be good for your health. In many parts of the world, the weather is great for outdoor activities, and this should bring a lot of joy to many people.

However, even as you step outside your house to enjoy the delights of nature, you also have to be cautious of the dangers that lurk there.

At the moment, there is a plant you need to be careful about, and health experts recommend that you make sure that you don’t touch it. This small mistake could mean experiencing severe skin burns and possibly blindness.

The plant goes by the name Heracleum mantegazzianum or Hogweed. It has other names as well, and they include giant cow parsnip, hogsbane, giant cow parsley, and even cartwheel flower. Although the plant has been around in many areas for a long time, it is currently spreading rapidly. That also means that people who will end up as its victims will continue to increase over time.

It does not take much to get the serious side effects this plant can cause. Once you get into contact with its sap, you can expect severe burns, and you might suffer from permanent blindness as well.

Just by looking at it, the plant does not look anything like the threat associated with it. In fact, it is quite beautiful with very charming white flowers. But make no mistakes about it – this plant is very dangerous.

At the moment, the plant has increased its risks on unsuspecting humans by rapidly spreading throughout the country. Currently, it is growing in various states, including New York, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, Michigan, and even Virginia.

The plant is quite formidable in size, and it can reach heights of 14 feet, and its leaves can attain diameters of 5 feet. It also has a hollow stem, which is thick and covered in white hair and purple specks and dots.

Given how beautiful the plant’s flowers are, you might be easily tempted to start picking them. However, the sap it produces, called photosynthesizing furocoumarins, is very dangerous.

The issue with this substance is its photosensitivity. Once it gets on your skin, it can cause severe burns, and you can start getting blisters within 48 hours.

If you think that’s scary, consider that the scars you get after these burns might stay with you for up to six years.

But above all, don’t let the stuff get into your eyes. Otherwise, you suffer the risk of permanent blindness.

However, if the worst does happen and you come into contact with this sap, there are some things you can do to avoid the effects or reduce the impact. Generally, you should get out of the sun right away and then wash the area with cold water.

Some sunscreen can also offer some relief to skin irritation. Applying an aluminum acetate mixture can also help if you are stuck outside.

In case the stuff gets on your eyes, you should rinse it off with water right away and put on sunglasses.

But the best way to avoid the negative effects of this plant is to know more about it and how to recognize it so that you can get out of its way before it harms you in any way.