In taking time to read the news this week, I saw this headline that made me stop and take notice: “Beware of plant that can cause blindness.”
Well, as a gardener, I had to click on the link and read that article! According to health officials in Michigan, a plant called “Giant Hogweed” (what a name!) recently discovered in that state can cause painful bruises, burns and blindness. Growing up to 18 feet tall, Giant Hogweed (top, at right) is photo-reactive, meaning that in sunlight it begins to burn. “When the plant touches human skin, it can cause small fluid-filled vesicles” that can develop into permanent purplish-black scars and blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes. Blindness from a plant? Yikes! You would think it would be easily recognized so it can be avoided. Not so.
Giant Hogweed is usually found mixed with other plants and grows in the same areas where harmless Queen Anne’s Lace grows (bottom, at right), each boasting white flowers on its crown. You’d have to know the difference and pay attention to avoid devastating results.
That article reminded me of something I read 40 years ago and again yesterday. A little pamphlet called “The Tyranny of the Urgent.” Lots of things crop up in our lives demanding our time and attention. Some shout pretty loudly, “Do this now, or else!” Drawing our attention like the 18-foot tall Giant Hogwood over the 6-7 foot tall Queen Anne’s Lace.