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Massachusetts steps up efforts to eradicate giant toxic weed

In 2002, the first time the plants were seen in the area, Doug Roberts inspects Hogweed plants that are growing on property he owns in Granville, Mass. Globe archive

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts is stepping up efforts to eradicate a giant invasive plant that emits a toxic sap that can cause painful, burning blisters on human skin.

The state Department of Agricultural Resources has released an updated list of communities where the giant hogweed has been confirmed and is asking people to keep an eye out for new infestations. Anyone who thinks they see hogweed is urged to avoid touching it and instead contact the state.

Control efforts are currently underway in 14 communities, from Acton and Dover in eastern Massachusetts to West Springfield and Hinsdale farther west. The weed has already been eradicated from nine communities.

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The giant hogweed can grow up to 15 feet high and has umbrella-shaped canopies of flowers that can grow to 2 ½ feet in diameter.