Beware of giant hogweed this summer

Giant hogweed: more than meets the eye

Giant hogweed: more than meets the eye - Credit: Archant

It may look pleasant enough, but giant hogweed can have toxic consequences, including severe burns.

Last year a number of children were reported to have sustained skin damage after coming into contact with the invasive weed, which can reach heights of more than 10ft.

It poses a serious risk to those who are unaware of its dangers – and at this time of year, it’s in its element.

Chemicals in giant hogweed’s sap can cause photosensitivity, meaning the skin becomes sensitive to sunlight – and blistering and scarring are possible consequences.

Professor Max Wade, chairman of the Property Care Association’s Invasive Weed Control Group, said: “The mix of warm weather coupled with the fact this invasive non-native plant is spreading across a wider area means that people – in particular children - are more likely to come into contact with giant hogweed.

“The chemical in the plant, a furanocoumarin, needs bright light to react with the skin and causes blistering and other health problems, so this is the time of year when problems can ensue.

“The general public, as well as local authorities, statutory agencies and landowners on whose property people can come into contact with the plant, should be aware of the risks. Giant hogweed needs to be controlled and managed professionally.”