Hog­weed hys­te­ria

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE -

Gi­ant Hog­weed, an in­va­sive plant that can cause third-de­gree burns and per­ma­nent blind­ness, has been dis­cov­ered north of Rap­pa­han­nock County. But don’t be too alarmed.

The Massey Her­bar­ium at Vir­ginia Tech said 30 gi­ant hog­weeds were found be­tween Winch­ester and Lees­burg, and yes the plant con­tains a toxic sap that when com­bined with sun ex­po­sure can cause painful blis­ters. Wip­ing the sap into the eyes is even more dan­ger­ous.

How­ever, Vir­ginia Tech re­searchers who helped iden­tify the plants in Clarke County stressed that the weeds are be­lieved to have been “planted in­ten­tion­ally decades ago, and have not spread in the years since.”

“It’s a dan­ger­ous plant but I’m not overly con­cerned about it. This seems to be an iso­lated in­ci­dent,” said Vir­ginia Tech weed sci­ence spe­cial­ist Michael Flessner.

In 1946, with seg­re­ga­tion in full force and lit­tle ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal African Amer­i­can stu­dents be­yond sev­enth grade, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Rap­pa­han­nock, Madi­son, Orange and Culpeper coun­ties re­quested and re­ceived funds from the state to build a re­gional high school. Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Carver Re­gional High School in Culpeper opened in 1948 and quickly earned re­spect for the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion and stu­dents.

Now, once again this spring and as a re­sult of gen­er­ous fi­nan­cial sup­port from alumni, com­mu­nity, friends, and one anony­mous donor, the Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Carver Re­gional High School Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion Inc., has awarded $17,000 in wor­thy scholarshi­ps.

At least one schol­ar­ship went to a qual­i­fy­ing stu­dent in each of the high schools in the as­so­ci­a­tion’s orig­i­nal “feeder-coun­ties.” The Rap­pa­han­nock County High School re­cip­i­ent is Nyah Au­gust, who will at­tend Vir­ginia Tech.


Po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous Gi­ant Hog­weed plants were dis­cov­ered close to Rap­pa­han­nock County, but ex­perts say don't worry.

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