What is Giant Hogweed?
Giant Hogweed (Herocleum Mantegazziamum), is a non-native, invasive plant that was originally imported into the UK as an ornamental garden plant. It now grows in the wild, mainly along riverbanks, canals, footpaths and roads.
How to identify?
- Tall bamboo like stems that grow up to 5 metres tall
- Stems have sharp bristle and are green with purple blotches
- Leaves grow up to 3 metres in length, are serrated and have bristles underneath
- White umbrella shaped flower heads up to 80cm in diameter
What are the dangers?
- Giant Hogweed is Phototoxic, meaning that it produces a toxic sap that is activated by sunlight
- Contact of the sap with human skin causes Phytophotodermatitis also known as Giant Hogweed burns
- These burns blister, leaving scars on the skin
- If the sap comes into contact with the eyes, then blindness can occur
- The symptoms can re-occur year after year, activated when the skin is under direct sunlight
What to do if you get burnt?
- If you think you have been in contact with sap you should cover the affected area immediately to protect it from sunlight
- Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water
- Seek medical advice regarding anti histamines or creams
- Do not burst blisters
How do I remove it?
Removal needs to be carried out by a competent contractor. Not only does the correct Personal Protective Equipment need to be worn, a waste carriers licence is required to dispose of it. A herbicide treatment can be applied when it is in early growth stage. Alternatively it can be removed if is in flower or causing a Health and Safety issue.