Saturday, August 15, 2009

What Next...Triffids?

OK, so maybe it's a slight exaggeration referring to that 1951 sci-fi novel by Wyndham. But it's weeds like these that keep me out of the garden...

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.

14 comments:

katey said...

Oh my god, this is what I mean about reality being so much freakier than anything we could invent. That's downright scary!

Cool about the paper though. And the kid is super cute-- too bad he had to lose an ear. But hey, it was for science! ;)

K.C. Shaw said...

Wow, I've never seen a plant like that. It does look sort of like queen anne's lace, but queen anne's lace has an edible root. I really don't want to think about the effects your supervillain plant would have if you ate it.

Akasha Savage said...

We have triffids growing at the bottom of our garden: aka stinging nettles...they grow about six feet high and are as vicious as hell. each year - wearing a jacket and my thick leather motorbike gloves - I pull the buggers up by the roots, only to have them grow up again the next year!

Jameson T. Caine said...

Yesterday I finally stopped procrastinating and went out to do battle with the weeds in our side yard. They had grown to about five to six feet in height, but luckily none where like the monster you encountered. A few good whacks and the fight was over, the weeds were gone and my back was killing me.

Natalie L. Sin said...

Scary shit!

Anton Gully said...

Giant Hogweed? Isn't that an early Genesis track?

Ah, here we go.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDwyBWjfFaM

Anyway, reacts with sunlight, eh? So that would be like a vampire killing accelerant that you've got there.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Katey,they've cut the weeds down now, but the thing produce a lot of seeds and may be back with a vengeance next spring. The boy's cuteness is, of course, from my side of the family ;)

KC, I wouldn't want to try shredding it up on a salad either. You may be on to something. Would th supervillian plant give the eater super powers? Probably be super crazy to try.

Akasha, wouldn't want to have to deal with those stinging plants every year. Had some ground cover at our last house that would sting your fingers and leave them numb for a while.

Jameson, sounds like you have the same gardening tactic as myself. Go out on a blitz a couple of time each summer, ignore it the rest of the time.

Natalie, when I saw them I said something more like "What the F&*% is that?"

Anton, you're correct about the Genesis thing. The woman who wrote the newspaper article had some song lyrics in her story. Hmm, could be useful in a story...

Rebecca Nazar said...

Holy natural defenses! Don't you love it when something so lovely is also so horrible? My roses and thistles nip me all the time, wishing they could do me as much damage as the Giant Hogweed I'm sure.

Anton Gully said...

Alan... you might want to sit down.

I just awarded you the "One Lovely Blog Award".

http://ufexp.blogspot.com/2009/08/one-lovely-blog-award-one-nonono.html

Danielle Ferries said...

Funny how some of the most noxious weeds are the prettiest.

abrokenlaptop said...

I'm sorry, but I was laughing through this whole post. "Ooh, what are they? They're so beautiful! They're...AUGGHHH!!!

We have White Oleander in the backyard. Gorgeous, delicate things. I often clip the flowers off and put them in my hair. The sap,of course, can cause you to go blind, but hey, what's life without a little adventure?

-Mercedes

Alan W. Davidson said...

Danielle, I guess one person's hogweed is another person's rosebush.

Mercedes, I didn't include the photo of my son grabbing the stalk with his fist...guess we shouldn't let him play with them any more...then again, we're the parents who let him go around with a broken arm for 2 weeks before taking him to the emerg (*sighs, no parent of the year award...again!)

Jeremy Kelly said...

Goodness. Blistering sap. What will the world think of next?!

Anton Gully said...

then again, we're the parents who let him go around with a broken arm for 2 weeks before taking him to the emerg

Does shed some light on why he wants to run away to sea though, doesn't it?