Giant hogweed causes serious painful illness

Giant Hogweed continues to be a menace
Giant Hogweed continues to be a menace

As the warm but wet weather continues, gardens across the borough are being plagued by the highly dangerous Giant Hogweed.

And property experts are urging caution when tackling the invasive plant because its sap is extremely toxic to the skin in sunlight, making it a danger to public health with symptoms lasting up to five years.

Officials from The Property Care Assocation (PCA) say if anyone comes into contact with any part of the plant, followed by exposure to sunlight, they can sustain severe blistering to the skin and discomfort, which can become a long-term condition, recurring in subsequent summers.

Professor Max Wade, Chairman of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group, said: "Giant Hogweed is turning out to be a problem again this summer. It is continuing to spread and, in one area alone, I’ve seen it appear in five new locations. 

"It is really important that the plant is spotted and that its toxic sap does not come into contact with skin in the sunlight.

"If this occurs, it can lead to a nasty rash, itching and blisters when skin first makes contact with it.

"An added concern is the fact that Giant Hogweed sap which comes into contact with items such as clothing and equipment can also be transferred via touch, so it can possibly affect somebody else."

Professor Wade advises that if contact is made with the plant, the affected area should be covered from sunlight and the skin washed with water as quickly as possible. The plant can grow up to three metres high with a two centimetre diameter stem and a large, white, umbrella shaped flowering head. It has sharply serrated or divided leaves which can grow up to two metres with bristles on the underside. The stem is usually covered in bristles and has blotchy purple markings.