By David Highfield

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s not as nasty as Giant Hogweed, which can leave you with burns if you touch its sap, but another weed is causing concern in Pennsylvania.

Poison Hemlock is growing rapidly in the Lancaster and State College areas, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

A spokesperson was unsure if it’s growing as rapidly in our area, but a map by the USDA shows it to be in Allegheny, Beaver, Washington and Greene Counties.

Sandy Feather from the Penn State Extension Office says the sap from Poison Hemlock won’t burn you the way Giant Hogweed will, but she says parts of the plant can definitely be poisonous if ingested. It’s reported to be how Socrates was executed.

She says the weed’s poisonous nature is why it’s a particular concern on the other end of state where the fear is that farm animals might eat it if other feeding options dry up.

PennDOT says it does see it along some roads in our area and sprays it like it does with other weeds.

Feather recommends getting rid of it if you find in your yard.

Mackenzie Savage of Pleasant Hills found a six-foot tall weed in her yard and initially thought it was Giant Hogweed. It turns out that it’s Poison Hemlock.

Poison Hemlock is shorter than Giant Hogweed, according to Feather. She says it also has purple spotting on the stem, the stem is smooth to the touch and she says it’s not real hairy. It can also have a white flower that resembles Queen Anne’s Lace.

She recommends wearing gloves and putting the weed in a garbage bag for trash collection.

Just in case of a skin reaction, you may want to wear long sleeves, and some experts even suggest wearing a mask. If you’re not sure what you’re dealing with, it’s always best to contact an expert.

Feather says the weed produces so many seeds that if you do nothing, you’ll have many more of them next year.

Savage is anxious to see it gone from her yard. With a three year old who enjoys picking flowers, the weed makes her uneasy. “Kids eat bugs or leaves or all kinds of stuff, so nothing would surprise me with her,” said Savage.

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