Holy Shit, These Things Are Real?

I go running in the Don Valley.  And something did kind of sting my face the other day, as I brushed past a low-hanging branch.  Felt like a nettle.  A two-meter-high nettle…

I thought Genesis was just ripping off Wyndham’s Triffids.   I thought it was just standard seventies prog-rock science fiction…

(Yes, this is a cover.  A recent one.  Early-seventies production values just don’t hold up on Youtube…)

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Friday July 16 2010at 06:07 am , filed under misc . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

34 Responses to “Holy Shit, These Things Are Real?”

  1. …and Genesis doesn’t hold up well under any circumstances. “Invisible Touch?” Really?

    BTW Peter, you keep posting like this, and you’ll start giving people expectations.

  2. They found some in Ohio a few years ago. It’s really very frightening. I have already spent afew weeks wrapped like a mummy after discovering my enormous issues with poison ivy, all I need is to try to tackle a huge weed and discover it’s a hogweed (as so many other plants, brought over for “decorative and scientific” reasons and allowed to escape into the wild).

  3. I see your hogweed and raise you kudzu.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kudzu

  4. Yep. They’re dealing with them in London, ON too.

    Worse yet, the sap makes the skin highly photosensitive, so sunlight will turn a rash into an outright burn.

  5. I find myself thinking of an episode of Escape Pod . . .

    “The Hastillan Weed” by Ian Creasey
    “http://escapepod.org/2009/08/06/ep210-the-hastillan-weed/

    I’m also looking up info about it, because odds are, if this has spread to Québec, then it will spread southwards in the Eastern US as well . . .

  6. In fact, in photos it looks rather too much like Queen Anne’s Lace for me. Eek.

  7. Ah, I see the Giant Hogweed aka Triffids are spreading….

    Around here (in England) the damn things are all over the place. Farmers with herds tend to be pretty good at getting rid of them because they poison the animals, but they’re everywhere. Drive around the lanes near my house and they’re all along the hedgerows, and there are some fields nearby which are full of ’em. They’re all along a belt of waste land beside the canal too.

    To be honest I don’t notice them much anymore, although it’s one more thing to keep my dog away from. Of course they haven’t started walking yet. I anticipate aerosol dispersion of blinding chemicals, followed by mass uprooting…..

  8. I was so excited about this when I read it!! I always tease my friend Dee that these plants that grow outside her front door are Triffids! But now for real she’s gonna have to keep an eye on theM!

  9. I’ve been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that I didn’t really understand any of their work, though on their last album of the 1970s, the concept-laden And Then There Were Three (a reference to band member Peter Gabriel, who left the group to start a lame solo career), I did enjoy the lovely “Follow you, follow me”. Otherwise all the albums before Duke seemed to artsy, too intellectual.

  10. I was taught to avoid them back in the early 80’s (Netherlands) when a neighbour ended up covered in blisters after removing one from her garden. Luckily they are easy to recognize and I haven’t had any problems yet. But I think there is a program to remove them, at least when growing close to the road.

  11. Yep. Real. Invasive plant even in Slovakia. Hard to root out, has to be dug out by soldiers in biohazard suits, and then the hole irrigated with herbicide.

  12. Wow… I never thought I would come on here and see you link to Transatlantic. I have the album that that song is on and it’s amazing from start to finish. If you like progressive rock, go get it! And maybe Bridge Across Forever while you’re at it!

  13. @J Meijer–Yeah, I was also taught to avoid Genesis back in the early ’80s, but, man, after “World of Confusion” they were really hard to avoid. Then Phil Collins went solo, and man. Dark days.

  14. An Admirer wrote:

    I’ve been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that I didn’t really understand any of their work, though on their last album of the 1970s, the concept-laden And Then There Were Three (a reference to band member Peter Gabriel, who left the group to start a lame solo career), I did enjoy the lovely “Follow you, follow me”. Otherwise all the albums before Duke seemed to artsy, too intellectual.

    Sorry for the double post, but I just realized that this is the most brilliant and well placed Patrick Bateman reference I have ever seen or heard. Seriously, kudos.

  15. I think I have a large patch of those growing in my yard…

  16. Information Alert: Giant Hogweed

    http://www.nanaimo.ca/assets/Departments/Parks~Rec~Culture/Publications~and~Forms/gianthogweed.pdf

  17. I have to disagree with Flanders and An admirer – early Genesis kicked ass. Everything after “A Trick of the Tail” sounds pretty bland to me.

  18. “Mighty hogweed is avenged / Human bodies soon will know our…aaaaaaaanger / Kill them with your hogweed hairs / Heracleum
    mantigazzi…ahhhhhneeeeee…Aaaaaadvaaaaaance!”

    Sorry. I just love this song so freakin’ much! Not sure if I ever read that the plant actually existed, but it doesn’t surprise me. With a plant that aggressive, anyone with a sfnal bent walking down a street festooned with GH on its sides would be likely to think, “Sure is a lot of that stuff…hurt like hell when I got stung…hmmm…wonder what would happen if they could *move*?…”

    Early Genesis is somewhat of an acquired taste. But there’s brilliance in it, and newcomers should be aware that this band helped *start* what later became known as progressive rock. “Genesis Live” is scary good.

    Peter, thanks for the skip down memory lane. Much appreciated.

  19. Ah yes, prog rock. Exhibit A in the gallery of “Proof that something being very difficult to do is not itself sufficient reason for doing it.”

    Okay, so Supertramp had its moments. Rush, however, can turn its speakers back around to face Canada again any time it wants to. No, really. Any. Time.

  20. And I’m still kinda freaked out by that giant fungus that’s spread out under, what, five states in the US? It’s the largest single organism in the world, and it just keeps growing. No harm to humans, though. At least, not yet.

  21. Flanders, I could not disagree more! There is definitely some very sub-par prog out there (ELP, for example and on most days I’ll even agree with you on Rush.), but there are also mindbogglingly talented bands as well.

    The combinations of Anekdoten, Porcupine Tree, Änglagård, Planet X and Cynic (All considered prog or fusion) have single-handedly pulled me out of some very extreme bouts of depression. Not even chemical stimulants have had the same effect! It’s like a shot of serotonin to the brain!

  22. Thank goodness for Genesis. Like the resurrection of Spock, it spawned the World Music Artistry of Peter Gabriel….and Youssou N’Dour…

    Flanders, can’t you feel it in the air tonite?

    Read that book “The Day of the Triffids” when I was a wee one, and while living in the sparsely populated Bartsow Desert, saw the old movie on a tv channel playing allsorts of old scifi classics, body horror and hybrids of both. Along with Triffids, and other Squickily organic squicktastic films, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Day the Earth Stood Still, This Island Earth, Them, Soylent Green, Invaders From Mars, Fantastic Voyage, The Thing From Another World, and It Came From Beneath the Sea, among many others…my interest in science, anime, Starfish Aliens and Lovecraftian Superpowers was partly to do with this.

    Silly humans, in exchange for a “garden plant” they receive the gift of phytophotodermatitis. When will humans learn, and stop introducing invasive species of flora and fauna into fragile environments…gotta watch out for phenotypic plasticity…

  23. Well, wouldn’t you know, it was Peter Gabriel who wrote the lyrics about Heracleum mantegazzianum…

    “Mighty hogweed is avenged.
    Human bodies soon will know our anger.
    Kill them with your hogweed hairs…”

    Gosh, Genesis started out as a moody pop band…no wonder there is Genesis aversion on here…but classic prog-rock Jethro Tull album “Thick as a Brick” is not at all “moody”.

    I remember some old movie called “Attack of the Crabs”, or somesuch…and, speaking of holy, the damnation film “Jigoku”, with it’s groundbreaking, or perhaps I should say humanbreaking, “torture porn”.

    Gee, I was lucky to have access to Japanese films at such a tender age. Although I did have some scary and weird dreams as a kid.

    “Attack of the Hogweed” could be the basis of a neo-retroB-viral apocalyptic dystopianesque movie, starring unsuspecting joggers being swipestung by the tall, swine-ish, “sentient” plants, infecting the humans with a highly evolved form of phytodermatitis mutating the silly bipedal naked apes into lean, green, mean and obscene partly photosynthetic bloodsuckers.

  24. Regarding hogweed, my favourite part of the CBC story was that Alexander Graham Bell was the one who imported it here. We owe him so much!

  25. Yes, yes, but all of this pales next to the latest threat from Syfy and Roger Cormon.
    I give you, Sharktopus:

    http://livefeed.hollywoodreporter.com/2010/07/syfy-sharktopus-trailer-video-.html

  26. @Flanders Genesis has done many things, but causing blisters in a garden would be new to me ;). But I have to admit I like (later) genesis at times, might even have to try their older music.

  27. @J. Meier–Genesis-induced garden blistering is a well-documented medical phenomenon. I believe it was covered in “the Lancet.” Be careful; your garden isn’t the only thing that’ll get blisters.

    (Citation: Lancet 1987;2: 469-471 [I.F. 28.409]. Chang, P.F., Puck, W. “On Dermatitis Herpetiformis Induced by Progressive-Rock Group Genesis.”)

  28. Apparently there is a wacko lady in Ottawa who has been cultivating it in her garden.

  29. After I discovered this was what was giving the kids blisters when they played swords against it, I spent ten years cutting it back to ground level every spring before giving in and soaking it in Roundup. Now I only have to cut down 10 sprouts. Very hard to kill, and the sap is bad news in Wet Coast sunshine.

  30. That’ll keep those pesky neighbor kids out of her begonias!

  31. People have dealt with it for generations. Its certainly no worse than poison oak/ivy. Get a grip

  32. There’s a close relative of giant hogweed that also has photosensitizing sap–celery. Celery farmers have an increased risk of skin cancer. The precautions are, fortunately, pretty basic–wash it off when you can, wear opaque clothing, etc. It sounds like this stuff is much worse. [And celery is not invasive here, it’s quite hard to grow.]

    I don’t think this stuff stings immediately, any more than celery juice would. It could have been either stinging nettle or the related but not terribly similar-looking wood nettle. Probably stinging nettle, they’re more likely to be 2m tall.

    V, it’s the same family as Queen Anne’s lace.

    There are certain traits that indicate a high risk that a plant will become invasive. Giant Hogweed would get a high score on an invasiveness risk assessment. It’s very frustrating watching people insist on growing such stuff.

    There are a lot of butterflies that depend on Apiaceae, I wonder how this stuff is affecting them?

  33. A friend of mine spent a good chunk of his childhood in an area thoroughly colonized by those things, and at one point used their sap as impromptu chemical weapon.
    From his accounts, those things are pretty horrible (they can reach up to six meters, for the love of everything!).

    By the way, the hogweeds were initially brought into that area because they were considered good candidates for further selection as decorative plants…

  34. Yes, they are, and they’re spectacular…. :)