A Giant Hogweed flower in close-up. Do not touch!

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Heracleum mantegazzianum, the giant hoogweed

Now look at that, how pretty: that vibrant green colour, those bright white tufts of blossoms at the top… no wonder that 19th century gardeners were all over it, especially since that pretty plant had a tendency to grow gigantic in size:

Velky bolsevnik

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What could possibly go wrong introducing that Caucasian beauty to the west? (I mean the plant, not the lady next to it)
Well, if you look at the picture above, you see that the woman is reaching up to a specimen that has been dead for quite a while. The thing is, if it were still alive, she’d not be smiling… in fact, she’d be running and screaming in pain.

Well, it figured that the mean green momma really really hates people who go out into the sun, as anybody who has the misfortune of even slightly touching the leaves will instantly know.

English: Burn (allergic reaction induced by sk...

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Ouch!

As you can see in the picture above, the stems and the underside of the leaves are covered in tiny hairs that are actually miniature daggers pricking the skin so the sap can get into the tiny open wounds and destroy the skin’s ability to deal with UV-rays, causing massive sunburn that can even lead to the skin coming off like from 3rd degree burns…

…which leads me to the assumption that the whole gardening fad was a cunning plan hatched by the vampire overlords of Transylvania to conquer the world.