A poisonous weed that can cause severe burns and permanent blindness in extreme cases has been found in the City of Ottawa.

City staff says Giant Hogweed was located and removed from one park in Ottawa South, as well as private property in the west end.

City officials said they won't disclose the specific locations of the two cases because they worry residents will venture into those areas in search of the plant.

Residents who come across the weed are warned to stay clear of the plant, which can grow from one to 5.5 metres high.

Giant Hogweed is considered a serious health hazard for humans. It can cause severe burns to your skin, and contact with your eyes can cause temporary or permanent blindness.

The weed's sap makes human skin hypersensitive to sunlight. If residents come in contact with the plant, they are advised to:

  • find shelter immediately
  • and wash exposed skin thoroughly with soap and water

Residents are also warned that skin can redden and swell after 24 hours of exposure. An inflammatory reaction can also occur after three days. If you have a reaction, you are advised to seek medical attention immediately.

The invasive plant was introduced to Canada from Europe and only reproduces by seed.

Giant Hogweed only flowers once in its lifetime between June and August. The plant's stem is generally covered with reddish-purple spots. However, its base can sometimes be solid purple. The weed's flowers are white and sometimes pinkish.

Giant Hogweed was spotted in Renfrew County last week. It's also been spotted along roadsides, stream banks and waste areas across southern Ontario.

Anyone who thinks they've spotted Giant Hogweed is asked to contact the city immediately at 3-1-1. Residents can also call the Natural Resource Information Centre at 1-800-667-1940 or visit ontarioweeds.com.