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.