Can I cut down this big scary plant?
July 21, 2015 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Is this Giant Hogweed or something else?

A really huge, strange, alien-looking plant has sprung up over the past few weeks beneath (and then through, now reaching nearly to our 2nd story windows) one of the hedges on the side of our house. Facebook postings about Giant Hogweed have me terrified--the leaves look similar, but the stalk isn't hairy, it seems more narrow, and there are no flowers. I've emailed the DEC about it just in case, though no answer yet. I'm not certain it actually IS a Giant Hogweed and some stuff on the internet has me wondering if it's just a huge wild lettuce.

Here are pictures.

(Sorry some are sideways. Yes, that's poison ivy beneath it--I've been waging a war against the PI in our yard since we moved in 4 months ago.)

Anyone know what this thing is? Can I just cut it down, or will I DIE?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Is it not just an overgrown dandelion? They get pretty weird looking once they're allowed to grow to full height.
posted by mittens at 10:06 AM on July 21, 2015

Not giant hogweed, and not a dandelion, but your instinct is correct, it's definitely Lactuca and almost certainly wild and/or prickly lettuce.

Pro tip: Instead of cutting it down, put on some gardening gloves, get a firm grip on the main stalk, and pull it straight up. It will be super easy if it's rained recently, but try to pull out as much of the root system as you can no matter what because these things have massive taproots that will continue to sprout unabated if you just chop off the visible growth.
posted by divined by radio at 10:14 AM on July 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

It looks more like lettuces (in my Google search) than Hogweed (also in my Google search). If you're worried about cutting it down, you could always hit the base with a teapot-full of boiling water, give this homemade weed killer a try, or Roundup, as you like.
posted by jquinby at 10:16 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

You could also give it the "glove of death": put a rubber glove on your dominant hand, cover that with a cotton glove. Saturate the cotton glove with Roundup and grip the stem at the base, running your hand up the stalk (as far as you can, that is a pretty tall plant!), saturating it with the Roundup. Wait for the Roundup to do it's thing. This is better than spraying the ground, in case you want to keep adjacent plants alive.
posted by sarajane at 12:53 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Did you make an OG Genesis joke? That makes my day. Someone can totally delete this if necessary.
posted by ElectricGoat at 4:01 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

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