SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House voted Wednesday to outlaw various types of weed.
No, it wasn’t another bill involving marijuana. This one involves weeds such as knotweed and hogweed.
The legislation, Senate Bill 681, would add a handful of plant species to the state’s Exotic Weed Act. Plants on that list are ones that are not native to North America, and can spread rapidly, crowding out native species that are more valuable. Such plants can be harmful to wildlife and impact crop production.
It’s illegal to buy, sell or plant any species on the list.
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Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, who is a sponsor of the bill, said it is supported by the Sierra Club and the Illinois Environmental Council.
“I’m trying to establish weeds on the Exotic Weed Act — the bush honeysuckle, the olive, the salt cedar, the poison hemlock, the oriental bittersweet, the teasel, the knotweed, and the worst of the worst, the giant hogweed,” Phelps said. “That thing’ll cause blindness. You gotta watch that one.”
According to the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service, giant hogweed produces a clear, watery sap that can cause burning and blistering on the skin when combined with sunlight, and can also cause blindness. The sap can get onto someone just by brushing by the leaves or breaking the stem or leaves.
Hogweed is native to Asia but has been introduced to other parts of the world as an ornamental plant.
Plants already listed in the state’s Exotic Weed Act include kudzu, a fast-growing, invasive, climbing vine.
The House passed the bill 115-0. The Senate had already approved it, meaning it now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner.