Sussex parents warned about the dangers of the giant hogweed

Giant hogweed. Photo: Olaf Booy
Giant hogweed. Photo: Olaf Booy

A warning has been issued about keeping clear of the invasive weed giant hogweed which can damage skin.

As the summer holidays take hold, national trade body The Property Care Association has issued a timely warning on the dangers associated with the weed.

Last year a number of children were reported to have sustained injuries after coming into contact with it.

Now, with youngsters more likely to come into contact with the plant during the summertime, the Property Care Association is urging caution.

This is because Giant Hogweed sap is extremely toxic to the skin in sunlight, making it a danger to public health.

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.

Professor Max Wade, chairman of the PCA’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.

“Each plant can produce up to 50,000 seeds which can survive in the soil for a number of years and Giant Hogweed is capable of growing to a height of up to five metres.

“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 and Giant Hogweed needs to be controlled and managed professionally.”

The PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group has produced a Guidance Note on Managing Giant Hogweed (http://www.property-care.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Guidance-Note-Giant-Hogweed.pdf.

The PCA also provides a means of identifying specialist contractors and consultants with the expertise to control and manage invasive species such as Giant Hogweed, as well as other plants such as Japanese knotweed.

A full list of companies in the Invasive Weed Control group is available in the ‘Find A Specialist’ section on the PCA website and more details on invasive weeds in general are available via www.property-care.org/homeowners/invasive-weed-control.

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