ALBANY, N.Y. — New York officials say statewide efforts to control a giant invasive plant with toxic sap are making headway.

The Department of Environmental Conservation's Giant Hogweed Program is in its 12th year. Commissioner Basil Seggos says the program has eradicated the plants from 623 sites and another 448 sites are being monitored.

The agency is urging the public to report sightings of the plant as it begins to bloom in the next few weeks.

Giant hogweed can grow up to 15 feet tall and has 2-foot-wide umbrella-shaped canopies of flowers. Brushing against it can release sap that causes painful, burning blisters.

Giant hogweed is native to the Caucasus Mountain region between the Black and Caspian seas. It has become established in New England, the Mid-Atlantic Region and the Northwest.