About a month ago, we noticed several large plants growing along a creek close to our house. A large bulb developed at the top and eventually a pretty white flower emerged. It resembles Queen Anne's lace (or so I've read) except a lot larger (7 or 8 feet tall). We emailed photos to my mum as she's a member of an on-line gardening club but were no further in identifying it. We stumbled across an article in the London Free Press with photos of the same plant, only much larger (yes, shades of Aaron's sunflower plants). I assume it's a result of the warmer, humid climate of SW Ontario.
The plant is apparently called Giant Hogweed (known as Giant Cow Parsnip in some areas) and is considered a noxious weed ten times more dangerous than poison ivy. Now, don't we feel silly after having our son go and pose next to the thing for a few photos. If the sap gets on your skin it reacts with sunlight causing burning, painful blisters. If in your eyes it can cause temporary, or even permanent blindness. My wife sent her photos to the local newspaper and TV station to get the word out about "the invasion". The TV station didn't react, but someone from the paper called and pushed for an interview with my wife. She wasn't keen on the idea, but eventually relented and met with the reporter and showed her where the plants were. They were no longer flowering, but they used my wife's photos for the story in today's paper. I will try to link to the story on page 1 and 4 on the on-line edition of the paper, but it may not work. Just in case, I will attach the link to the Wikipedia entry here and stick on a picture of my kid next to the weed (sadly, seconds after the photo the plant incapacitated the boy with sap and bit off his left ear...).
It's a gorgeous day here, so I'm going out to the garden to finish painting the trims on the shed. And you know I'll keep an eye on the plants around me...just in case.
FYI: since posting this I notice that you can click on the link to get the front page of the newspaper, but you then have to click on the story (at the bottom of the page) to active the viewer to zoom in and to access the rest of the story on page 4.