Beware of giant hogweed

The burns caused by hogweed in Wigan

The burns caused by hogweed in Wigan

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PEOPLE are being warned to be extra vigilant after reports that toxic giant hogweed is back in Wigan borough.

The plant is said to be growing in a field off St John’s Road, Mosley Common. The weed grows very quickly and contains chemicals known as photo-sensitising furanocoumarins.

Giant hogweed

Giant hogweed

These substances prevent the body from protecting itself from UV light and can lead to severe burns.

A red rash develops on the skin, which grows more painful and then blisters.

The matter has been reported to Wigan Council and Graham Workman, wildlife and countryside development manager for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, insists any poisonous weeds will be treated and removed immediately.

He said: “Now this has been reported, we will look into it and if it is giant hogweed, we will remove it straight away.

“We have had a past problem in Pennington Flash, as it travels fast in water, and Westwood Cemetery, away from where the public go, and we had it removed straight away and sprayed the area as once it establishes itself, it can spread really quickly.

“If anyone reports it, we go and remove it instantly as we know what we are looking for and the problems it can cause. It is a nasty plant.

“People also need to be aware that it is only giant hogweed that is the problem. This can be up to 10ft tall and has evil-looking pointy leaves. Ordinary hogweed which is less than 6ft tall is no threat and is a nice plant as it provides lots of pollen and nectar for insects.”

The sighting comes just days after five children were left with severe burns after coming into contact with a toxic plant growing in parks across Greater Manchester.

Four teenaged boys brushed against some giant hogweed in Moses Gate Country Park, Bolton, and a seven-year-old girl has been left with a permanent scar after her arm blistered at Clifton Country Park, Salford.

If anyone touches a giant hogweed, they should cover the affected area and wash it with soap and water.

It can take as long as seven years for the skin to repair itself and if the sap is rubbed into the eyes, it can cause temporary or even permanent blindness.

The blisters can develop into phytophotodermatitis, a type of skin rash.