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The Geauga County Health Department is telling people to keep an eye out for giant hogweed, which has been spotted in Bainbridge Township close to bridges near the former Geauga Lake amusement park in Aurora and in other places throughout Northeast Ohio.
Sap from the giant hogweed can cause burns when handled, according to the Ohio State University Horticulture and Crop Science Department, and the sap, in combination with moisture and sunlight, can cause severe skin and eye irritation, permanent scarring and blindness.
Officials say residents can identify the toxic plant by its white flowers, intricate leaves and white hairs that grow out of its stem.
The plant can grow up to 14 feet tall or more, and it has a hollow, rigid stem that is 2 to 4 inches in diameter with dark reddish-purple blotches, according to the OSU Horticulture and Crop Science Department. Its white flower heads can grow up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter.