University of Georgia clears the air on poisonous plant

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

In response to inquiries about poisonous plants locally, the University of Georgia is helping to separate fact from fiction.

Dr. Mark Andrew Czarnota is an associate professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia’s Griffin location. He said one particular plant, known as hogweed or heracleum mantegazzianum, has not been not found in the Southeast.

“I have never been contacted about hogweed, though I did hear of a find in the mountains of Virginia recently,” said Czarnota. “[The] plant is native to Asia, and was brought here as an ornamental and has escaped in areas where it can survive in the country. The only place it might survive in Georgia is the northern part of the state.”

Czarnota also addressed concerns regarding Queen Anne’s Lace, or Daucus carota. He noted that although it is in the same plant family as hogweeed, no one should confuse the two.

“Queen Anne’s Lace is considered a desirable wild flower in most situations, and its growth should be encouraged - unless in an agronomic situation where it can be weedy,” said Czarnota. “It is native to Europe, and can be good as a companion to blueberry, tomatoes, etc., as they encourage native pollinators, but bad as a weed in pastures as in overabundance, it can be a mild toxin to some grazing animals. The root is edible, and flowers are beautiful.”